Jakarta. A former top Indonesian official in charge of migrant worker protection has demanded an investigation into the police chief of East Nusa Tenggara province, or NTT, over indications of police complicity in the alleged trafficking of migrant workers, both within the country and abroad.
“I suspect that there’s a senior official masterminding the human trafficking racket in NTT,” Jumhur Hidayat, the former chairman of the Agency for the Placement and Protection of Indonesian Migrant Workers, or BNP2TKI, told the Jakarta Globe in Jakarta late on Sunday.
He added that when he last visited the province in his capacity as the BNP2TKI chief back in March, he had received “numerous complaints from various parties about the police failing to act against human trafficking.”
“I believe that there are certain officials who are benefiting from this trade,” Jumhur said.
He declined to say whether this included the provincial police chief, Brig. Gen. Untung Yoga Ana, but stressed it was important that Untung be investigated along with other senior officials by the National Police.
Jumhur’s call came a day after a local police investigator, Brig. Rudy Soik, went to the national human rights commission in Jakarta to complain about orders by a senior officer to kill an ongoing investigation into alleged human trafficking.
The case, under investigation since the beginning of the year, centered on the discovery of 52 people, mostly women, being held in squalid conditions at a migrant worker placement agency in Kupang, the provincial capital. Investigators later determined that 26 of them were victims of human trafficking and were destined for indentured labor elsewhere in Indonesia and abroad.
Rudy said police had already named representatives of the placement agency as suspects in the case, when the order came earlier this month from Sr. Comr. Mochammad Slamet, the director of special crimes at the provincial police, to drop the case for no specified reason.
Since then, Rudy said at a press conference on Saturday at the office of the National Commission for Human Rights, or Komnas HAM, he had been sidelined by his seniors and made out to be an unreliable investigator.
“Of course what I’ve been investigating has huge implications. But what the NTT police spokesman has been telling the media, that the case was dropped because of a lack of evidence, is a clear case of siding with [Slamet]. I have been portrayed as an enemy of the police simply for doing my job,” Rudy said.
In addition to Komnas HAM, Rudy has also reported the matter to the National Police’s internal affairs division, the Indonesian Ombudsman, and the Witness and Victim Protection Agency, or LPSK.
Untung, the NTT police chief, denied all allegations that the police were complicit in or covering up human trafficking cases in East Nusa Tenggara.
“That’s not true at all,” he said when contacted by phone on Sunday night. “All police officers are committed to combatting human trafficking.”
He cited the “complex nature” of such cases as the reason for Rudy’s investigation being halted, but did not elaborate.
“But we’ll keep trying, no matter the obstacles,” Untung said.