CAMBODIA – On October 4, 2023, 28 Indonesian victims of forced scamming were safely repatriated from Cambodia to Indonesia with the assistance from the Embassy of Indonesia, the Cambodian National Police, the General Department of Immigration, the International Organization for Migration, and International Justice Mission and Caritas International.
The case first came to the Embassy's attention on June 14, 2023, after IJMI Foundation, a partner of IJM Indonesia, reported the case to the Embassy. They received information about a group of Indonesian citizens who were being forced to work at online scam centres in Poipet City and Banteay Meanchey province. It was suspected that they had been trafficked illegally into Cambodia.
After an extensive search, the Cambodian National Police located the victims on June 26, 2023. Two days later, they were transferred to the Department of Anti-Human Trafficking and Juvenile Protection. The Indonesian citizens underwent interviews with both the Cambodian National Police and the Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans, and Youth Rehabilitation, confirming their status as victims of trafficking on September 27, 2023.
The embassy made arrangements for their repatriation back to Indonesia in coordination with Indonesia’s Ministry of Social Affairs, IJMI Foundation, and other partners. Upon repatriation, the survivors immediately received assistance from the Ministry of Social Affairs and IJMI Foundation. The IJMI Foundation and the Ministry of Social Affairs agreed to collaborate to provide victims with psychosocial support. The human trafficking victim Andi* recounted the terrible conditions of his work, stating that he was forced to work for 12 hours per day on all days of the week.
Andi reported that he was fined $200 for any absence from work, required to pay for his medical costs when sick and that he was physically punished for not meeting the daily targets. Andi was beaten by his supervisor, Ai Miao* who forced him to stand on one foot for six hours without a break.
Andi said, “Ai Miao beat me very hard using his hands, punched my head and ear, and even kicked, and punished me by standing on one side foot for 6 hours straight for making a mistake. I registered the incorrect time in the list. I was forced to stand one side foot straight for about 6 hours daily for not meeting my target."
Budi*, another victim of human trafficking, also endured appalling conditions. He believed he was taking a job in an online game but soon realized he had been deceived. His passport was confiscated upon arrival at the company, leaving him without any means to escape his situation. Budi worked exhausting hours from 8:30 AM to 9:00 PM daily without any day off. He suffered physical abuse from Ai Miao, the company's translator, including being slapped on the head several times.
"I was hit by Ah Miao, the translator of the company. He slapped me very hard on my head,” said Budi. “Normally I got punished by standing one foot under the sun for around 6 hours because I did not find 4 customers per day."
Despite the hardship he endured, Budi* filed a case against the recruiter who trafficked them to Cambodia, with the support from IJMI Foundation and partners, Indonesian authorities will continue to pursue the case, ensuring that the criminals involved are brought to justice and taking steps to prevent similar incidents in the future.
Through the collaboration between IJM Cambodia and Caritas International, the victims were rescued safely. IJM Cambodia and Caritas International provided necessary assistance to the victims, including counselling, interpretation services, and even food and amenities.
This successful rescue and repatriation of trafficked survivors highlights the importance of international cooperation and the ongoing efforts to combat human trafficking in Cambodia and Indonesia. By working together, governments, NGOs, and various stakeholders can make significant strides in bringing traffickers to justice and protecting victims.
Meanwhile, IJMI Foundation will provide service and assistance for survivors in Indonesia.
“Together with the partners in Indonesia, we will provide aftercare services to the survivors including legal assistance to ensure survivors obtain justice and perpetrators are convicted. We hope that the survivors get their rights, and the perpetrators can get the appropriate punishment so there will be no more human trafficking and online scamming in Indonesia and other countries,” said Mia Marina, the Executive Director of IJMI Foundation.