Jakarta, IO – There are two categories of Indonesian migrant workers (PMI) — official and illegal. The World Bank released a data in 2017 showing that there were 9 million Indonesians working abroad, but according to the Agency for the Protection of Indonesian Migrant Workers (BP2MI) only 4.6 million were officially registered as PMI. And of the 4.4 million were illegal workers, 90 percent were victims of crime syndicates and mafia. The majority of those illegal workers went to work in the Middle East and Malaysia.
In a special conversation with the Independent Observer, BP2MI head Benny Rhamdani, Head of the Indonesian Migrant Worker Protection Agency (BP2MI) said the syndicates aim to make huge profit from illegal workers. They are able to make a profit between Rp10 million to Rp12 million per worker. Migrant workers who opted for the illegal channel often did it because they wanted to avoid training and are too old to work overseas officially as per regulations. Another reason is that the costs are borne by the syndicate/mafia, even though it is just a trick because it will be converted into debt, the payment of which would be deducted from their monthly salary.
In addition, there is still the practice of debt bondage where PMIs wishing to quit were offered loan that carries huge interest rate, up to 30 percent. The question is, who is going to take responsibility as many of them were placed by private labour supply firms, rather than sent by BP2MI. This is not yet clear. At the same time, the problem is too complex. Benny is of the view that the key lies in law enforcement.
Law 21/2007 on human trafficking and its derivative Presidential Regulation (Perpres) 22/2021 stipulates that there are 27 ministries/ agencies responsible and BP2MI is just one of them. “The problem is the public tends to think that it is the sole responsibility of BP2MI,” lamented Benny.
According to him, BP2MI is only tasked with sending PMIs through government to government (G-to-G) placement scheme to three countries — South Korea, Germany and Japan. To date, no complaint has ever been received from the host countries. Under this program, PMIs do not need to pay for the costs of training, pre-departure and lodging.
There are also PMIs that are placed by private labor agencies through the Private to Private (P-to-P) scheme. In this regard, BP2MI only intervenes in three aspects: completeness of documents, provision of 10-hour briefing and issuance of electronic PMI card based on application.