Cablegate: West Nusa Tenggara: Migrant Labor Exodus Creates

DE RUEHJA #8182/01 1810305
P 300305Z JUN 06






E.O. 12958: NA
SUBJECT: West Nusa Tenggara: Migrant Labor Exodus Creates
Economic Gain but Causes Social Disruption

Ref: A. JAKARTA 5081 (Notal - Document Fraud in Surabaya)

1. (SBU) SUMMARY. The Indonesian province of West Nusa
Tenggara (NTB)--comprising Lombok and neighboring Sumbawa--
is one of the leading sources of legal and illegal migrant
workers leaving Indonesia, due to weak local economic
conditions. The exodus of NTB workers overseas is creating
economic dependence on foreign remittances and producing
high social costs in the impoverished province. National
policies for overseas workers have had the perverse effect
of encouraging illegal overseas workers and has helped
create a robust market for false documents. The limited
local government response is likely due to corruption and
officials' financial involvement with overseas migrant
worker (TKI) agencies recruiting locals for foreign
employment. That conflict of interest has allowed serious
abuses of TKI workers and has contributed to a growing human
trafficking problem. A high profile trafficking case in
2005 raised public awareness and anger surrounding
trafficking, motivating East Lombok Regency politicians to
enact regulations protecting TKI workers. End Summary.

West Nusa Tenggara's #1 Export - People

2. (SBU) During a recent visit to Lombok, ConGen Surabaya
Pol/Econoff spoke with local officials, NGOs, and legal
experts regarding West Nusa Tenggara's (NTB) status as a
major source of legal and illegal overseas workers and the
growing problem of human trafficking. The number of NTB
residents looking for work abroad skyrocketed after the
Asian Financial Crisis and the two terrorist bomb attacks in
neighboring Bali decimated the area's nascent tourism
sector, causing the closure of many hotels and the loss of
thousands of jobs in the province. In 2005, NTB became
Indonesia's second biggest labor exporter sending more than
42,000 "authorized" workers overseas (East Java Province is
number one by a small margin but has ten times NTB's 4
million residents). The number of workers officially
leaving NTB in 2005 was nearly double the 2004 total of
24,000. According to the Department of Manpower (Disnaker)
statistics, 29,796 TKI from NTB headed to Malaysia (mainly
men as manual laborers and women as domestic staff or other
unskilled labor) and 8,986 to Saudi Arabia (mostly women
working as domestics.) Disnaker also reports demand for NTB
workers is outpacing supply with 55,891 official requests
for workers coming into the province. Lombok-based NGOs
that work on TKI worker protection issues estimate that
there were an additional 8-13,000 "unauthorized" TKI which
left NTB illegally in 2005, mainly to destinations in
Southeast Asia and the Middle East. The total of both legal
and illegal workers adds up to nearly 2 percent of the
population of the province who left to work overseas during

High Social Costs of Migration

3. (SBU) As with TKI in other areas of Indonesia, those from
NTB are poorly educated; according to Disnaker,
approximately 80 percent of TKI from NTB have a junior high
school education or less. The rapid depletion of the NTB
workforce is straining local society in what local NGOs
describe as a "vicious cycle" of migrant work. Residents
leave the province for one to three years to obtain money to
support their families, and return with enough funds to
temporarily raise their standard of living; however, most
have little idea of how to budget these funds, and quickly
run through the money, forcing another overseas journey.
Generally considered a conservative Muslim area, NTB has
increasing rates of child abuse and domestic violence,
problems which most NGOs say are directly linked to migrant
worker issues. Another social cost of the wave of migrant
workers is a soaring divorce rate. There is a sharp
increase in the instances of "divorce by mail", where a wife
receives a divorce letter from her husband and ceases to
receive any further financial support for the family. With
few job prospects locally, she is often forced to work
overseas herself to support her children. Local NGO leaders

JAKARTA 00008182 002 OF 003

lament the large number of NTB children being raised by
maternal grandparents.

TKI Overseas Workers - NTB's Growth Industry

4. (SBU) Foreign remittances generated by NTB workers have
become a driving force in the provincial economy. At USD
425 per year, NTB has one of the lowest provincial per
capita GDPs in Indonesia. TKI workers remitted close to USD
70 million to NTB in 2005, contributing over four percent of
provincial GDP. With the sharp increase in TKI in 2005,
local officials expect remittances to double in 2006.
Virtually all of the TKI come from the lowest economic
strata of NTB society, making the impact of these funds even
more pronounced. The significance of remittances in the
local economy creates a number of perverse incentives for
local government officials and police. In meetings with
three local NGOs who provide assistance to TKI in NTB, they
all commented that local corruption surrounding the business
of TKI is rampant. The head of the NTB Legal Aid Society
(LBH APIK) added that some local government bureaucrats,
especially Disnaker, accept bribes from TKI brokers to
ignore some of their more dubious recruiting activities, or
financially benefit from overseas workers by operating TKI
employment agencies themselves. The NTB provincial police
force has taken a hands-off approach to regulating
recruitment or treatment of TKI and is implicated by locals
as frequently a part of the problem.

5. (SBU) There are now 156 TKI overseas employment agencies
officially registered with Disnaker in NTB. However, there
are hundreds more unregistered agents operating illegally in
the province. Several NGO contacts in Lombok told
Pol/EconOff that this network of unregistered brokers
operates "like mafia" taking advantage of the surge in
residents seeking work overseas. Since few workers seeking
overseas work are educated or have any experience with
government procedures, most TKI have no idea which of the
agents are legitimate and if the procedures they are asked
to follow are legal. Many TKI are willing to go overseas
illegally, fearing they cannot meet GOI age or education
requirements to obtain a legal permit for overseas work.
Many workers traveling illegally are under-age girls. False
documents are generally procured in Jakarta for illegal
workers traveling to the Middle East and in Surabaya for
workers headed to Southeast Asia.

False Documents In High Demand Due To GOI Policies
--------------------------------------------- -----

6. (SBU) The GOI has imposed significant restrictions on
overseas workers headed to the Middle East. Ministerial
Decree #204/MEN/1999 stipulates that all workers headed to
the Middle East may only do so if issued special passports
only available in Jakarta. This decree creates a
significant barrier for residents outside of Jakarta to
obtain a Middle East worker permit using legal documents and
has contributed to the growth of the document fraud industry
in Indonesia. To date, ConGen Surabaya has identified 16
document fraud operations in East Java alone (Reftel), many
run and supplied by Indonesian immigration officials. These
operations use real passport stock, original software, and
printers to essentially issue an original Indonesian
passport. These "original but false" (aspal) documents are
widely used by TKI in NTB as well as from other provinces.
The head of the Panca Karsa Foundation (PCF) based in
Lombok, the largest NGO assisting TKI in NTB, estimates 60
percent of NTB foreign workers leave Indonesia on aspal
documents. Many TKI agents in NTB are little more than
middlemen, recruiting for large TKI agencies in Jakarta and
Sumatra. The local agents view the process of officially
obtaining a permit and travel documents as protracted,
overly complicated, and subject to illegal levies. They
send the workers off to transit destinations where they can
be more efficiently documented, usually with aspal
documents, and sent abroad.

High Percentage of TKI Face Problems

JAKARTA 00008182 003 OF 003


7. (SBU) The director of the Panca Karsa Foundation outlined
the extent of the problems NTB TKI face. PCF was referred
3,336 cases of "TKI problems" by the victims and their
families during the six months from December 1, 2005 through
May 31, 2006. These cases ranged from workers not receiving
the jobs or salaries they were promised, to torture and rape
by employers and employment agents. They are currently
working with 73 human trafficking victims. (Note: Our NGO
contacts indicate that the number of trafficking cases
reported to the NGOs and police is lower than they real
figure because there is reluctance among victims to report
their cases due to a lack of strong evidence, complex
process/procedure, and cultural factors. The victims are
also reluctant to report the case if the traffickers
(brokers) are members of their own families.) PCF's
director estimates that three or four times as many TKI are
victimized during their transit or employment tenure but
they are too afraid or embarrassed to report the crimes.
LBH APIK handles legal cases for trafficking victims
directed at local perpetrators. A notable case occurred in
mid 2005 in Krukah subdistrict, East Lombok Regency. Two 12
year old girls escaped involuntary captivity and were
referred to LBH APIK. They complained that they had given
USD 320 to a TKI agency that promised them jobs as domestic
workers abroad. They said that the agents held them captive
and raped them and that the agents had many other girls.
LBH APIK notified the police, who conducted a raid. Fifty-
five other young girls were being held captive and subjected
to rape and torture. The perpetrators were arrested,
eventually convicted of defrauding the girl's parents of the
placement fees and sentenced to only nine months in prison.
Local NGOs are convinced, but have no evidence, that local
judges were bribed to limit the conviction and sentences.

Local Government Finally Responds

8. (SBU) Local government's response to the social and legal
issues surrounding the outflux of residents as TKI has been
to encourage as many people as possible to work overseas.
Many local leaders see only the regional revenue and
personal economic benefits of this new "natural resource,"
ignoring the social costs of the exodus. However inadequate
the sentence was for the convicted Krukah traffickers, NGOs
see the case as a victory. It was the first time police
raided a TKI agency and arrested human traffickers. More
importantly, the local community responded to the abuses
highlighted by this crime and the lack of governmental
response with indignation and calls for action. With the
help of LBH APIK, the East Lombok Regency DPRD recently
approved local regulations (perda) specifically designed to
protect local TKI. The perda must still be ratified by the
local parliament prior to implementation. LBH APIK hopes to
use the perda as a model for the other regencies in NTB to
implement local level protection for their workers.


9. (SBU) While there will likely be little impetus to tackle
the social issues raised by the overseas workers "industry",
especially give the economic gain, we are now seeing a
growing awareness of that lack of legal protections for TKI
has made them vunerable to illegal TKI recruitment agencies,
corrupt agencies officials and human traffickers. Our NGO
contacts hope to build on the recent attention the Krukah
case has focused on the issue and work with local government
agencies to improve protections for the tens of thousands of
residents that leave each year. Better yet, they stress,
would be national level action, in particular regulations
regarding government officials involved in private
employment agencies. Increasing public, police and
political awareness of the existence and prevalence of human
trafficking in the province could bring positive changes in
attitudes needed to combat this problem.


© Scoop Media

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