Cablegate: 2007 Child Labor Update for Indonesia

DE RUEHJA #3359/01 3441038
O 101038Z DEC 07





E.O. 12958: N/A

REF: STATE 158223

1. SUMMARY. The GOI has a strong legal framework to prevent the
Worst Form of Child Labor. Implementation of these safeguards is
lacking but improving. Passage of a robust anti-trafficking law in
2007 represented a step forward. Issues that need to be addressed
include: child exploitation in domestic servitude and forced
prostitution through debt bondage. Decentralization has resulted in
increased exploitation of some children. There are an estimated 2.1
million child laborers in Indonesia, according to official figures,
but civil society suspects the numbers are higher. END SUMMARY.


2. The majority of child work in Indonesia occurs in rural areas.
Children work in agriculture primarily on palm oil, tobacco, rubber,
tea, and marijuana plantations. Children also work in fisheries,
construction, manufacturing (such as footwear production, textiles,
and food processing), and small-scale mining sector. Other children
work in the informal sector selling newspapers, shining shoes,
street vending, scavenging, and working beside their parents in
family businesses or cottage industries. There are also large
numbers of street children. Children, primarily females, also are
exploited in domestic service and are often subject to forced labor,
as well as prostitution. There were 2.1 million child domestic
workers in 2007, according to the National Statistical Bureau,
although the National Child Protection Commission believes that this
figure understates the magnitude of the problem.


3. Many girls under age 18 and even under age 15 work long hours at
low wages as domestic servants, according to reliable NGO studies
underway in 2007. They are oftentimes under perpetual debt bondage
due to pay advances given to the children's families by brokers.
The problem is hidden because children work under lock and key.
So-called "foundations" are commonly used as fronts for trafficking
children as domestic servants. One NGO identified 285 child
domestic workers in Bandung and 305 in Surabaya under age 17 --
mostly under age 15. From November 2006 to October 2007, another
NGO rescued 313 boys and girls aged 7 to 17, including 107 aged 15
and under. They had been trafficked to Jordan, Kuwait, Malaysia,
UAE, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Japan and Indonesia.


4. The exploitation of boys aged 15 to 17 on fishing platforms in
North Sumatra, which had been reduced to less than 10 boys in 2006
under a now-completed ILO project, crept up to 14 in 2007, according
to monitoring by an Indonesian NGO. Children age 15 to 17 work in
small workshops producing footwear, generally in unsafe
environments. Child labor is used in small-scale family and
community tobacco farms. Children also are recruited from families
living on large palm oil plantations to work on nearby small-scale
oil plantations in slash-and-burn agriculture, oftentimes at low or
no pay. The Child Protection Commission in December 2007 uncovered
children employed in the birds' nest processing industry in West
Jakarta, involving what they suspect will be thousands of children
aged 15 and under. The commission rescued six children from one of
the homes where this activity took place and are attempting to
rescue other children.


5. Children also are exploited in the production of pornography and
in the sex industry. ILO in 2002/2003 estimated that about 21,000
girls under 18 were in prostitution in Java island alone, many under
debt bondage. Trafficking of young girls from one urban area to
another across the archipelago by syndicates is a common practice
and aided and abetted by officials. Children also are trafficked
internally for begging activities. Children also are known to be
involved in the production, trafficking, and/or sale of drugs, both
manufactured drugs and marijuana, according to reliable NGO studies.


6. Indonesia is primarily a source, and to a lesser extent
destination, country for individuals trafficked internationally and

JAKARTA 00003359 002 OF 005

internally, including children. Children, primarily girls, are
trafficked internationally from Indonesia primarily to Malaysia,
Saudi Arabia, and a number of other countries in the Middle East and
Asia, as well as to Europe and the U.S., according to 2007 NGO and
official findings. They are trafficked internally mainly from rural
to urban areas. Girls also are trafficked into Indonesia, mainly
from China and Eastern Europe. Girls are primarily trafficked both
internationally and domestically for commercial sexual exploitation,
domestic work and in restaurants and hotels, whereas boys are
trafficked to work in construction and on plantations. Children are
also trafficked to work in organized begging rings.


7. In 1989, Indonesia adopted the UN Convention on the Rights of
the Child. In March 2000, Indonesia ratified ILO Convention No. 182
(Convention Concerning the Prohibition and Immediate Action for the
Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labor). Indonesia has also
ratified the main ILO Conventions relating to child labor. ILO
Convention No. 138 (Concerning Minimum Age for Admission to
Employment), was ratified in June 1999. The minimum age for work is
15. The law contains an exception for employing children from 13 up
to 15 years to perform light work that does not disrupt their
physical, mental, and social development. A set of requirements is
outlined for employment of children in this age range, including a
maximum of 3 hours of work per day, parental permission, and no
disruption of schooling.

8. Indonesia has ratified ILO Convention 182 and Law No. 13 of 2003
reiterates the convention's articles on hazardous labor while
Minister of Manpower Decree No. 235 of 2003 defines types of work
that are hazardous to children. Under Law No. 235 of 2003,
employing and involving children under 18 in the worst forms of
child labor (WFCL) or economic exploitation are prohibited under the
law; failure to comply can result in criminal sanctions of 2 to 5
years of imprisonment. The law defines WFCL as slavery; use of
children in prostitution, pornography and gambling; use of children
for the production and trade of alcohol, narcotics, and addictive
substances; and all types of work harmful to the health, safety and
morals of children. The law identifies a list of such harmful
activities and provides detailed descriptions and examples of these
activities. These include jobs requiring children to work with
machines; jobs where physical, chemical, or biological hazards are
present; jobs with inherent hazards such as construction, offshore
fishing, lifting heavy loads etc; and jobs that harm the morals of
the children including working in bars, massage parlors,
discotheques, or promoting alcohol or drugs to arouse sexual desire.
Persons who expose children to such hazardous activities are liable
to terms of up to 5 years of imprisonment or a fine.

9. An Indonesian decree calls for general programs to ban and
abolish WFCL and improve family income, and for specific programs
for non-formal education and returning children to school by
providing scholarships. Additional specific legal sanctions are
laid out against offenses of commercial sexual exploitation, child
trafficking, involving children in the production or distribution of
alcohol or narcotics, and involving children in armed conflict.
Anyone exercising legal custody of a child under 12 years for the
purpose of providing that child to another person, knowing that the
child will be used for the purposes of begging, harmful work, or
work that affects the child's health, face a maximum sentence of 4
years imprisonment. The law also prohibits sexual intercourse
outside of marriage with a female recognized to be less than 15
years, engaging in an obscene act with a person under 15 years, and
forcing or allowing sexual abuse of a child, with maximum penalties
ranging from 7 to 12 years of imprisonment.


10. The GOI passed a comprehensive anti-trafficking law in March
2007. The law meets international standards to prevent and outlaw
trafficking, and includes a comprehensive legal mandate for rescue
and rehabilitation of victims. The law outlaws all forms of
trafficking including debt bondage and sexual exploitation. It also
provides stiff penalties for complicity in trafficking by officials
and labor agents, which include harsh prison sentences. Penalties
for trafficking of a child, under 18 years, range from three to 15
years in prison, with penalties for officials higher by one-third,
and fines of between $12,000 and $60,000.

JAKARTA 00003359 003 OF 005

11. The minimum age for recruitment or enlistment into the armed
forces is 18 years. The law protects children in emergencies,
including natural disasters.

12. Indonesia has also ratified almost all major conventions
relating to trafficking. In addition to those referred to above,
Indonesia has ratified ILO Convention 29 on Forced Labor, the UN
Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, and
has signed the optional protocol to the Convention on the Rights of
the Child on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child
Pornography. Indonesia has also signed the UN Convention against
Transnational Organized Crime and its supplemental Protocol to
Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially
Women and Children.


13. The legal framework relating to working children has changed
significantly in recent years and a number of important pieces of
legislation have either been enacted or are presently in the
pipeline. Taken together this new body of law represents an
important step forward. The reforms in part constitute part of a
wider process underway in Indonesia in which the GOI has indicated
its commitment to an approach to labor policy consistent with ILO
standards. The major challenge now facing the GOI is to effectively
socialize and enforce the new legal framework.


14. Ministry of Manpower authorities at the provincial and district
levels enforce child labor laws. However, Indonesia's Child
Protection law is oftentimes not enforced; for example, there have
been no documented cases of prosecution for exploitation of child
domestic workers. Labor inspectors' involvement in child labor
issues is limited. Inspectors work with inadequate human and
financial resources. As they cannot inspect all workplaces, they
give priority to large enterprises and consequently leave out the
unregulated informal sector where most child laborers are found.
There also are indications that decentralization has had a negative
impact on the overall effectiveness of the labor inspectorate.
However, Parliament recently ratified ILO Convention 81 in 2007 on
Labor Inspection. This Convention includes provisions on the need
for inspection services to cover children and young workers which,
when implemented, could improve enforcement of child work protection


15. The national police's anti-trafficking unit and other law
enforcement bodies have increased efforts to combat trafficking of
children. Law enforcement against traffickers increased in 2006
over 2005, according to the most recent data gathered by the USG
data: arrests increased 29 percent; prosecutions increased 87
percent; and convictions increased 112 percent. High rates of
arrest continued in 2007. The GOI has trained over a thousand law
enforcement officials on fighting trafficking. The numbers of
special anti-trafficking police and prosecutors increased. Police
targeted operations trafficking children domestically and
internationally, breaking up several large syndicates, rescuing
dozens of children and arresting officials complicit in falsifying
the age of children in documents.


16. As the above cited case of children working in the birds' nest
processing industry illustrates, lack of Ministry of Manpower
oversight and police enforcement allow such situations to persist,
according to the Child Protection Commission. There is a need to
establish a comprehensive national enforcement policy including
clear policy instructions on labor inspection and child labor, which
would include:

--Establishing priorities for the most hazardous or abusive
--Defining clear objectives for interventions, including elimination
of illegal employment of children;
--Preventive measures to improve the conditions of children who are
legally employed and to extend intervention to all types of

JAKARTA 00003359 004 OF 005



17. The Penal Code fails to provide protection for children
involved in some of the WFCL, such as sexual exploitation and
involvement in the drug business. The main issues with the articles
in the Penal Code are that different definitions of a child
complicates implementation of the law; the statutory age for
criminal responsibility of 8 years old does not offer children the
special protection they need; and prosecution for sexual
exploitation is dependent on the victim's report, while victims are
often too ashamed or scared to report.


18. The marriage law allows early marriages which technically makes
a child into an adult. The law can be misused for fake marriages to
make a child enter into prostitution or migrant work 'legally'. A
high prevalence of very early marriages (involving persons under 16
years old) occurs in all provinces in Indonesia.


19. Lack of free, compulsory birth registration, results in 30
percent of Indonesians being unregistered. For law enforcement
purposes, it is often impossible to be certain of a child's age.
Ages can be falsified on identity cards, a practice which sometimes
involves the cooperation of government officials. The Child
Protection Act provides for free registration but it will be a major
challenge to give proper effect to the law.


20. There is no law or effective service to protect exploitation of
Indonesians working abroad although new legislation is currently
being considered. The proposed new migrant protection law provides
a minimum age of 21 for migration, unless the migrant is married.
However, with falsified identity cards or via illegal migration,
many children may still work abroad without protection. While
police and immigration are beginning to increase enforcement to stop
child labor migration, the practice is widely accepted in society as
a way of providing a livelihood for the masses of unemployed youth,
and officials oftentimes falsify the ages of children on documents
in the belief that they are helping them to go abroad and find work.


21. Under the five-year anti-trafficking National Plan of Action
(NPA) and Task Force, there was a more coordinated approach to
trafficking at the provincial and local levels as 17 NPA local task
forces took root in communities across the country. Local task
forces resulted in good cooperation among law enforcement agencies,
social service providers and NGOs in many communities as these task
forces met frequently. The national and local task forces include
social services, health and law enforcement agencies, as well as
civil society organizations. Trafficking victims are treated at
police hospitals where they receive counseling and are interviewed
by police so that they can press charges if they so choose.
National and local governments expanded services for victims,
including medical treatment, shelter, rehabilitation, and
reintegration, although the GOI is still dependent on international
assistance to provide these services.


22. Following are examples of a few of the government efforts to
fight WFCL in 2007:

-- Sukabumi District, West Java, allocated USD20,000 to raise
awareness on trafficking among senior high school students,
community members and for the establishment of a district plan of
-- Medan Municipality signed a new decree on elimination of WFCL in
conjunction with the establishment of the Medan Municipality Action
Committee on Elimination of WFCL.
-- East Kutai District in East Kalimantan established the District
Action Committee on WFCL.

JAKARTA 00003359 005 OF 005

-- West Java's Provincial Regulation on Child Protection went into
-- East Java's Government Initiative No. 22 to prevent child labor,
trafficking and child sexual exploitation has since 2005 brought the
provincial government together with related NGOs to implement
programs to prevent WFCL, including public awareness campaigns,
training, shelters, repatriation of child victims.
-- National Labor Force Survey conducted by the Central Bureau for
Statistics in August 2007 included one question on child labor, with
the objective of establishing a sampling framework for a National
Child Labor Survey to arrive at a national estimate of the scale of
child labor.
-- East Java Provincial Action Committee on the Elimination of WFCL
allocated funds for mapping of WFCL in 6 districts.
--North Sumatra Province passed a law on Elimination of Worst Forms
of Child Labor;
--Central Java Government submitted the Draft Provincial Regulation
on the Elimination of Child Labor to the provincial parliament for
--Ministry of Education programs to provide education for children
who have dropped out of school benefited over a half million
children through projects providing schooling for tailored for
hard-to-reach children. The ministry also implemented education
programs for child migrant workers overseas in Hong Kong, Malaysia
and Saudi Arabia with the goal of giving them the skills to withdraw
from exploitive work situations.
--The Ministry of Education worked with the World Bank's "Life
Skills" project to support scholarships for children to learn
employable skills and to fund small enterprises such as motorcycle
repair shops.
--East Kalimantan provincial government allocated over a million US
dollars for the 2008 operation of 32 One Roof elementary/junior high
schools targeted to keep vulnerable children in school.

23. The 20-year National Plan of Action (NPA) for the Elimination
of the WFCL is completing its report on the first 5-year phase
(2002-2006) and finalizing its plans for the second phase. The
Ministry of Manpower chairs a National Action Committee for the
Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labor. The National Plan of
Action of Human Rights in Indonesia (2004-2009) contains a specific
objective on protecting the rights of the child. The National
Medium Term Development Plan (2004-2009) recognizes the problem of
child labor and supports the implementation of the National Plan on
the Elimination of the WFCL. The Indonesia Poverty Reduction
Strategy (2005-2009) includes objectives of preventing the WFCL,
increasing protection for street children and child workers, and
preventing child trafficking. The government maintains the
Commission for the Protection of Indonesian Children.

24. Sources for this report include: Ministry of Education,
Ministry for Women's Empowerment, Ministry of Manpower, UNICEF, ILO,
IOM, Save the Children, American Center for International Labor
Solidarity, International Catholic Migration Commission, National
Child Protection Commission, local NGOs, and USAID.


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