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Indonesia’s battle against human trafficking: 28 citizens saved from online scams in Cambodia

Indonesia swiftly repatriates 28 citizens who fell victim to exploitative online scams in Cambodia. Their rescue sheds light on the alarming increase in such cases, highlighting the urgent need for vigilance.




INDONESIA: The Ministry of Law and Human Rights has reported that online scams are increasingly linked to cases of employment scam and human trafficking, with a rising number of Indonesian citizens falling victim to such schemes while seeking employment opportunities abroad.

On Wednesday (4 Oct), a total of 28 Indonesian citizens, identified as victims of human trafficking, were successfully repatriated from Phnom Penh, Cambodia to Indonesia, with the invaluable assistance of the Embassy of the Republic of Indonesia in Phnom Penh.

These citizens arrived at Soekarno Hatta International Airport on Wednesday (4 Oct) at 4:20 pm local time and underwent thorough examinations by local authorities, confirming their status as victims of human trafficking.

Previously, 27 of the 28 Indonesian citizens had been subjected to exploitation by online scamming companies in Poipet, Banteay Meanchey Province, Cambodia.

Thanks to close coordination between the Embassy of the Republic of Indonesia in Phnom Penh and local law enforcement, these Indonesian citizens were rescued from their accommodations in Poipet on 28 June 2023, and subsequently transferred to the Department of Anti-Human Trafficking and Juvenile Protection Office in Phnom Penh for further assessments.

On 14 July, these 27 individuals were relocated to a temporary shelter managed by Caritas, a reputable institution.

On 5 September 2023, Cambodian Police rescued another Indonesian citizen who had previously worked for the same company as the previously saved 27 individuals.

This victim had been transferred to another online scamming company within the same province.

The individual was promptly transferred to Phnom Penh and placed at the Caritas shelter for further processing, receiving logistical assistance, medicines, and hospital financing from the Indonesian Embassy in Phnom Penh.

The Embassy also provided translation services during interviews with the police and the Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans, and Youth Rehabilitation of Cambodia.

As the situation developed, the Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans, and Youth Rehabilitation of Cambodia confirmed the victims’ status as victims of human trafficking based on interviews conducted by Cambodian authorities.

Subsequently, the Embassy of the Republic of Indonesia in Phnom Penh coordinated with Cambodian Immigration to address immigration status and permits for the 28 Indonesian citizens awaiting repatriation.

Upon their return to Indonesia, the 28 citizens are scheduled to be accommodated at the Bambu Apus Indonesian Workers’ Social Home, a facility under the Ministry of Social Affairs, for rehabilitation before being reintegrated into their respective areas of origin.

Additionally, they will undergo a follow-up assessment by the Republic of Indonesia Police Criminal Investigation Agency to investigate and take action against recruitment agents in Indonesia.

1,138 Indonesian scam victims repatriated from Cambodia last year

Last year, a total of 1,138 Indonesian citizens who were victims of online scams in Cambodia were repatriated to Indonesia.

In a press conference on 5 May 2023, Minister of Foreign Affairs Retno Marsudi highlighted the government’s success in repatriating 1,138 Indonesian citizens who had fallen victim to human trafficking schemes propagated by fake companies on the internet or online scams.

The government continues to provide temporary shelter, legal assistance, psychological support, and repatriation services for these victims.

The Indonesian government emphasizes the importance of caution when considering job offers, particularly those that may lead to exploitation by online scamming companies.

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