Indonesia arrests 2 suspects linked to human trafficking

Tria Dianti and Arie Firdaus
Indonesia arrests 2 suspects linked to human trafficking Activists in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, release pigeons to mark the World Day against Trafficking in Persons, July 31, 2022.
Devi Rahman/AFP

Police in Indonesia said Wednesday they had arrested two people who allegedly trafficked 20 Indonesians to Myanmar where they were trapped in a conflict zone and forced to work as online scammers.

Authorities rescued the victims from Myawaddy, a border town where Myanmar’s military and rebel groups have been fighting. On Saturday, the victims were taken across the border with Thailand before traveling to Bangkok where they were awaiting repatriation, officials said.

“They were in good health,” Judha Nugraha, director of Indonesian citizen protection at the Foreign Ministry, said in a statement.

The suspects, identified as Andri Satria Nugraha and Anita Setia Dewi, were taken into custody Tuesday night from an apartment in Bekasi near Jakarta, Brig. Gen. Djuhandhani Rahardjo Puro, director of general crimes at the National Police Criminal Investigation Agency, told reporters.

The pair face charges of human trafficking and violating the protection of migrant workers, which carry prison terms of three to 15 years and fines of up to 600 million rupiah (U.S. $40,800).

The case is one of several involving online scams targeting consumers in the United States and Canada. 

Last week, Philippine police raided a syndicate north of Manila that employed more than 1,000 people from 10 countries, including 143 Indonesians.

Meanwhile, Indonesia, which holds the rotating chairmanship of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) this year, has made combating human trafficking a priority for the regional bloc.

While meeting at a summit in Labuan Bajo, Indonesia, ASEAN leaders on Wednesday adopted a declaration on eradicating human trafficking.

They noted “the increasing abuse of technology in facilitating trafficking in persons in Southeast Asia and globally, proliferated through the use and abuse of social media and other online platforms.”

Joko “Jokowi” Widodo, Indonesia’s president, said human trafficking was a serious crime that must be eradicated. He urged ASEAN to expedite negotiations on an extradition agreement to prevent the region from becoming a haven for criminals.

Nurul Azizah, National Police public information chief, said the two suspects had sent the victims to Myanmar to exploit them as online scamming operators. 

“Information on the two suspects was based on evidence of passports and travel documents to deceive immigration so the victims could pass through immigration safely,” she said in a statement.

She added that police continued their investigation in Bangkok and met with officers at the Royal Thai Police headquarters to discuss Interpol support in handling the case.

The Indonesian Foreign Ministry said it had urged Myanmar authorities to take effective steps to rescue migrant workers who were victims of human trafficking.


Add your comment by filling out the form below in plain text. Comments are approved by a moderator and can be edited in accordance with RFAs Terms of Use. Comments will not appear in real time. RFA is not responsible for the content of the postings. Please, be respectful of others' point of view and stick to the facts.