A Gift for Mother’s Day

The Human Trafficking Bill is being discussed by the DPR. Its definition and the penalties it carries are more extensive than those mentioned in the Criminal Code.

IF the examination is completed by next month, the regulations will be issued just around Mother’s Day. The inquiry, which started last July, has been running smoothly. “Members of the DPR (House of Representatives) as well as the government agree on the same point; human trafficking must be stopped,” said Latifah Iskandar, head of the Planning Committee on the Human Trafficking Bill.

Meutia Hatta Swasono, State Minister for Women’s Empowerment who represents the government, hopes the draft can be finished as soon as possible. The daughter of Indonesia’s first Vice President, Mohammad Hatta, is optimistic that the regulation will be issued next month on December 22. “We have long been waiting for this regulation because the number of victims is increasing,” said Swasono.

The proposal for the draft is not a new one. President Megawati brought the Human Trafficking Bill to the DPR during the 1999-2004 period but the investigation stopped.

Human trafficking cases in Indonesia are becoming more common and police are arresting suspects every month. Most of the victims are women and underage girls. There were 173 cases in 1999, a surprisingly low number of 24 cases in 2000, 179 cases in 2001 and a mere 43 cases in 2004. The maximum penalty for child prostitution is four years in prison. This is an insubstantial punishment for such a crime.

According to Sumarni Dawam Rahardji, from the Department of Women’s Empowerment, the data from the police does not show the real numbers. “This is an iceberg phenomenon, the actual figures are higher than they appear,” she said. Rahardji has her own method of counting the number of victims. “By comparing the number of requests for workers with the actual number of workers that have been sent,” she explained. If there is a demand for 100, but 1,500 workers are sent, the excess number may be potential human trafficking cases.

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has its own estimation of the number of human trafficking cases in Indonesia. According to Kendartanti Subroto, UNICEF spokesperson in Indonesia, every year 100,000 Indonesian women and children become human trafficking victims. “Most of them become sex workers either in Indonesia or overseas,” she said. “One main cause is poverty, the other factor is the low level of education.”

Indonesia already has laws which prohibit these types of crimes. The Criminal Code (KUHP) and the Protection of Children Law carry a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison for trafficking children under 18 years of age.

The police use these regulations as grounds for arresting human traffickers. However the Criminal Code is outdated. “It is no longer appropriate,” said a member of the Planning Committee on the Human Trafficking Bill, Andreas Parera. The Protection of Children Law merely protects children’s rights.

Parera pointed out gaps in the Criminal Code. For example, the definition of a victim is limited to underage girls and boys. “So, it does not protect adult men,” Parera explained. Furthermore, the crimes are simply considered sexual exploitation. “The penalties are insubstantial,” he added.

In the bill, which is currently being examined, human trafficking is defined in broader terms. The crimes are not limited to sexual exploitation, but include stealing human organs and forced labor. “The bill will cover those gaps,” said Parera. Moreover, the 59-chapter bill also authorizes a special institution to supervise the victims or the witnesses. This institution will work under the police or the Department of Women’s Empowerment.

M. Farid, from the Human Rights Committee, handles the children’s division and says that the investigation process is a step forward. However he also has several criticisms; the definition of criminal behavior does not differentiate between children and women on the matter of consent. “Whereas, in the work contract, workers must give their consent to the contract,” he said.

According to Farid, the consent factor should be omitted in cases involving children. “The child’s consent should be considered invalid,” he stated. In this case, even if the child has given his or her consent to work, the matter is still considered a crime. “This follows what is stated in the Palermo Protocol for the prevention and abolition of human trafficking,” he said.

Abdul Manan, Aqida Swamurt

More Extensive, More Severe

THE Criminal Code (KUHP) deals with human trafficking crimes; however, the definition and the penalties for the same crime are more extensive and more severe in the Human Trafficking Bill (RUU).


KUHP: Trafficking in women and underage boys

RUU: The process of recruiting, transporting, accommodating, transferring or collecting with or without threat, violence, abduction, taking hostage, forgery, trickery, abuse of authority, debt entrapment or paying someone’s superior to gain control over the weaker party; committed in Indonesia or overseas to exploit or to cause someone to be exploited.


KUHP: Traffickers of women and underage boys may receive maximum sentences of six years in prison.

RUU: Minimum sentence of three years in prison and maximum life sentence, in addition to a minimum Rp20 million or maximum Rp5 billion fine. Companies will incur higher fines as well as further penalties; permit revocation, confiscation of property, annulment of government contracts and others.

The Sanctuary Institution

KUHP: None

RUU: Witnesses or victims will receive private protection, identity change, the right to an interpreter, and the right to have transportation fees reimbursed. A special shelter must be established in each province and the district police must protect the witnesses and the victims.

Tempo Magazine, No. 10/VII/Nov 07 - 13, 2006


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