IOM Partnerships in Indonesia Helping Victims of Trafficking

On the occasion of the first World Day Against Trafficking in Persons this article highlights a remarkable partnership between IOM and an Indonesian Lawyers’ Association.

Victims of trafficking cannot usually afford legal assistance. In order to bring justice to Indonesian victims of trafficking, IOM associated with PERADI (Perhimpunan Advokat Indonesia – Indonesian Lawyers’ Association) and they are working together to provide legal assistance to victims. In the last ten years, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) has assisted more than 6,000 victims of trafficking in Indonesia.

Several cases of labour and sexual exploitation in West Java, West Nusa Tenggara and Jakarta have already reached a verdict and traffickers have been condemned to between five and 11 years in prison. This demonstrates the potential for a promising partnership to benefit the victims and help them to regain dignity through justice.

IOM and PERADI initiated a partnership in 2011 to increase access to justice for victims of human trafficking with the support of the United States Department of State's Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons (J/TIP). IOM committed to provide training on the relevant legislation to PERADI’s members, while PERADI committed to provide pro-bono legal services to victims referred to them by IOM. So far, IOM has trained 166 PERADI lawyers.

The newly elected chief of PERADI Legal Aid Centre, Rivai Kusumanegara, has put forward the initiative to increase pro-bono movement among lawyers in Indonesia. “The mandate of our Legal Aid Centre is to bridge the lawyers who have not done pro-bono works with the unfortunates who are seeking legal assistance,” he said.

PERADI was established in 2004. In line with the Indonesian Government Regulation 83/2008 (art. 2), which makes it compulsory for lawyers to provide free legal aid to people without economical resources, PERADI requests all of its member lawyers to comply with this principle. PERADI also formed its own Regulation 1/2010 on the “Implementation Guidelines for Cost-free Legal Aid” and in 2009 it created a department called “Legal Aid Centre” dedicated to equip PERADI’s national branches to help those who seek legal assistance. There are 35,000 PERADI member lawyers who are affiliated to 57 PERADI local branches of executive board, stretching from Aceh to Papua provinces.

In 2013, PERADI assisted 54 labourers who were forced to work in a factory in Banten Province. The workers very often suffered from physical and psychological abuse from the factory’s foremen, worked in a dangerous environment for up to 18 or 22 hours a day, without pay, and with inadequate living conditions. Neighbours who protested on how the waste from the factory degraded the surrounding environment were intimidated by gangs.

On May 3, 2013, the Tangerang District Police raided the factory and rescued 34 workers in the site. It was then found that 54 workers were being exploited, three of whom were underage. The Police found that the workers were confined to the factory and subjected to repeated abuse. Some of them were only barely dressed and they also had bruises and wounds as the evidence of abuse.   

PERADI, with the Commission for the Disappeared and Victims of Violence, gave cost-free legal assistance to the 54 victims. They managed to press charges against the perpetrator who was convicted to 11 years in prison under the Indonesian TIP law No 21 Year 2007 on the Eradication of the Criminal Act of Trafficking in Persons.

In prosecuting the trafficker, PERADI also worked with the Institute for the Protection of Witnesses and Victims to obtain restitution for the victims. However, this proposal was rejected by the court due to its late submission. PERADI is still pursuing the attempt to obtain restitution through the court appeal, which should take place in the coming months.  

PERADI’s role does not stop in resolving the case. The association is also concerned about the victims’ on-going lives and their economic status, and seeks to empower the victims by supporting them to find jobs or to receive vocational training.

Considering the number of trafficking cases that occur in Indonesia, head of PERADI Legal Aid Center, Mr Kusumanegara emphasizes the importance of having stronger cooperation with other organizations that have the same commitment to combat trafficking in persons in Indonesia and this, he said, includes IOM as one of its leading partners.

“We see IOM as a very great working partner, because basically we have the same spirit and understanding that trafficking in persons is a part of a crime against humanity. IOM with its international network has also enabled us to keep up with the worldwide trends on law enforcement, policies, as well as the international convention related to fighting against trafficking in persons,” he said.