2023 Trafficking in Persons Report


The Government of Indonesia does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking but is making significant efforts to do so. The government demonstrated overall increasing efforts compared with the previous reporting period, considering the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, if any, on its anti-trafficking capacity; therefore Indonesia was upgraded to Tier 2. These efforts included increasing investigations, prosecutions, and convictions for suspected trafficking crimes, including forced labor on a palm oil plantation and in foreign cyber scam operations; and securing increased restitution for trafficking victims. The government also identified and repatriated several hundred Indonesian forced labor victims from Cambodia as part of its multinational coordinative efforts to address forced labor in cyber scam operations, passed an implementing regulation to the 2017 Protection of Indonesian Migrant Workers Law to improve labor conditions in the fishing sector, and finalized its 2020-2024 NAP. However, the government did not meet the minimum standards in several key areas. For the second consecutive year, the government did not report identifying or investigating any forced labor cases in fishing, and it continued to not fully prioritize the staffing or funding for effective oversight of this sector, despite long-standing, pervasive trafficking concerns. Official complicity in trafficking remained a concern the government did not adequately address. The government lacked a national SOP to identify trafficking victims in all sectors, which continued to hinder proactive victim identification, especially of males. Government shelters confiscated some victims’ passports and imposed severe restrictions on movement and employment such that most victims left the shelters and did not participate in cases against traffickers. The government continued to administratively mediate most potential trafficking cases involving Indonesian migrant workers, which did not provide for criminal liability or adequately deter traffickers. The 2007 anti-trafficking law did not prohibit all forms of trafficking, as it required a demonstration of force, fraud, or coercion to constitute a child sex trafficking crime.


  • Increase efforts to vigorously investigate and prosecute trafficking crimes, and convict traffickers, including complicit officials.
  • Amend the 2007 law to remove the required demonstration of force, fraud, or coercion to constitute child sex trafficking.
  • Allow shelter residents freedom of movement, possession of their travel documents, and the ability to work.
  • Develop – and disseminate widely – SOPs for proactive victim identification and train law enforcement, foreign affairs, marine, and labor officials on their use.
  • Increase resources for and proactively offer all victims, including males, comprehensive services.
  • Increase efforts to effectively monitor labor recruitment agencies, including in the fishing sector; implement all labor laws and regulations; and, through the 2022 regulation, develop and implement employer-paid orientations for Indonesian and migrant fishermen.
  • Provide regular anti-trafficking training for judges, prosecutors, police, and social workers.
  • Increase resources for the anti-trafficking task force and improve its coordination across ministries.
  • Ensure ministries and agencies fulfill their obligations to fund and implement anti-trafficking activities under the 2020-2024 NAP.
  • Establish a data collection system to track anti-trafficking efforts at all levels of law enforcement.
  • Increase awareness of trafficking trends and vulnerabilities among local village leaders.
  • Create a national protocol that clarifies roles for prosecuting trafficking cases outside victims’ home provinces.
  • Screen any North Korean workers for signs of trafficking and refer them to appropriate services, in a manner consistent with obligations under United Nations Security Council resolution 2397.


The government increased some law enforcement efforts.  The 2007 law criminalized all forms of labor trafficking and some forms of sex trafficking and prescribed penalties of three to 15 years’ imprisonment, which were sufficiently stringent and, with respect to sex trafficking, commensurate with those prescribed for other serious crimes, such as rape.  Inconsistent with international law, the 2007 law required a demonstration of force, fraud, or coercion to constitute a child sex trafficking crime and therefore did not criminalize all forms of child sex trafficking.  Judicial officials at the national and provincial level continued to assert the law implicitly established that force, fraud, or coercion were not required to constitute child sex trafficking, and that this therefore was not a barrier in successfully prosecuting and obtaining convictions in child sex trafficking cases.  Nevertheless, observers noted that low awareness among local law enforcement and judicial officials of trafficking and relevant legislation impeded case detection and prosecutions.  During the reporting period, the government also prosecuted trafficking crimes under other laws, including the 2014 Child Protection Law and the 2017 Protection of Indonesian Migrant Workers Law.  In April 2022, the government adopted the Sexual Violence Crime Law, which provided an additional avenue to prosecute sex trafficking; the law prescribed penalties similar to those prescribed under the anti-trafficking law.

Ineffective coordination among agencies and the lack of a centralized database hindered law enforcement anti-trafficking efforts and comprehensive data collection.  From the data reported, the Indonesian National Police’s (INP) Criminal Investigative Division (CID) – responsible for investigating criminal cases involving multiple jurisdictions – investigated 133 trafficking cases (89 transnational labor trafficking, 22 sex trafficking, and 22 involving an unspecified form of trafficking), with 46 remaining under investigation at the close of the reporting period.  This compared with investigating 24 cases (eight sex trafficking and 16 transnational labor trafficking) in 2021, 38 cases in 2020, and 102 cases in 2019.  The government prosecuted 223 cases and convicted 217 defendants in 178 cases, all under the 2007 law.  This was an increase from prosecuting 167 cases and convicting 178 traffickers in 143 cases in 2021, but a decrease from prosecuting 232 and convicting 259 traffickers in 2020.  In one case, courts convicted three traffickers under the 2007 law for recruiting nine Indonesians for forced labor in cyber scam operations in Cambodia.  The judge sentenced the traffickers to between three and four years’ imprisonment each and ordered the alleged leader to pay 93.4 million rupiah ($6,010) to the victims.  Judges sentenced two defendants to five years’ imprisonment under the 2014 Child Protection Law for exploiting seven women and girls in commercial sex in a boarding house.  Prosecutors were reportedly more likely to charge trafficking crimes under the 2017 migrant worker law, because it had a lower evidentiary threshold.

The government prosecuted and convicted a government official for crimes related to a high-profile trafficking case; however, it did not report prosecuting or convicting any complicit government officials under trafficking-specific laws.  Corruption and official complicity in trafficking crimes remained a concern, inhibiting most law enforcement action.  NGOs and international organizations alleged both official complicity and corruption occurred on palm oil plantations, noting some regents run “prisons” with forced laborers on the plantations and the government’s heightened requirements for organizations to visit palm oil plantations stymied NGO and international organization efforts to investigate labor conditions.  A court convicted four traffickers under the 2007 law and sentenced them between 24 and 36 months’ imprisonment for torturing to death four forced labor victims on a regent’s palm oil plantation in North Sumatra.  Officials found the victims and 57 others in cages on the regent’s property, which had been operating as an unofficial drug rehab facility. Some of the victims remained under LPSK protection while others chose to return to their home provinces.  The National Commission on Human Rights reported it planned to conduct inspections of other palm oil plantations; no further information was available at the end of the reporting period.  Although police initially arrested the regent for illegal imprisonment resulting in four deaths, authorities did not charge him with trafficking or related crimes; he was instead convicted for corruption and sentenced to nine years’ imprisonment.  Authorities also convicted his son on charges related to the victims’ death and sentenced him to 19 months in prison.  During the reporting period, an anti-trafficking advocate accused East Nusa Tenggara officials of fraudulent recruitment, falsification of travel documents, and the smuggling of Indonesian migrant workers abroad.  The government did not report any action in response to this claim.  Civil society alleged some law enforcement officials and politicians organized raids on entertainment venues to extort financial kickbacks from adults in commercial sex, which may have included sex trafficking victims.  Corrupt officials reportedly continued to facilitate the issuance of false documents, accepted bribes to allow brokers to transport undocumented migrants across borders, protected venues where sex trafficking occurred, engaged in witness intimidation, and intentionally practiced weak oversight to insulate recruitment agencies from liability.

In cases of labor violations, including suspected labor trafficking, police and BP2MI, the government’s agency for migrant workers, often pursued mediation in lieu of criminal investigation.  BP2MI reported it resolved approximately 32,000 migrant worker complaints through civil mediation over the past several years; during that same period, BP2MI reported identifying tens of thousands of suspected trafficking victims.  During the reporting period, INP trained police investigators on trafficking.  With in-kind government support, an international organization conducted anti-trafficking trainings for district court judges and members of the national and local anti-trafficking taskforces.  The government’s lack of investigation and prosecution bilateral cooperation mechanisms hindered law enforcement efforts in transnational trafficking cases.  In response, the government began drafting a law enforcement MOU with the Government of Cambodia; authorities had not finalized the MOU at the end of the reporting period.


The government demonstrated mixed protection efforts. It identified more Indonesian trafficking victims overseas, including those subjected to forced labor in cyber scam operations, and some key ministries reported slight increases in the identification and referral of victims within Indonesia.  However, other relevant government bodies reported precipitous decline in the receipt and referral to care of victims in 2022.  Overly restrictive protection efforts stymied law enforcement efforts.  The government did not have a comprehensive system to collect victim identification data; therefore, data reported was incomplete and likely duplicative.  The Witness and Victim Protection Agency (LPSK) received referrals for 239 trafficking victims and witnesses in 2022; it provided care, including shelter services, to these and 23 other trafficking victims and witnesses identified in the previous reporting period – a slight increase from a total of 252 individuals referred and assisted in 2021.  The Ministry of Women’s Empowerment and Child Protection (MOWECP) received 133 trafficking victim referrals from police, government ministries and agencies, international organizations, and NGOs – a substantial decrease from the Ministry of Social Affairs (MOSA) receiving 1,082 trafficking victim referrals in 2021.  MOWECP did not report how many of those victims it referred to care, compared to MOSA referring 555 to government social centers and the rest to NGOs in 2021.  An international organization identified and assisted 168 trafficking victims, including four child sex trafficking victims and five child forced labor victims exploited domestically; 98 Indonesians exploited abroad, primarily women in forced labor in Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, and Cambodia; and 10 Burmese forced labor victims in fishing in Indonesia.  Another organization identified 197 individuals in commercial sex on social media and livestreaming platforms, some of whom it assessed were likely sex trafficking victims.  The National Commission for Indonesian Child Protection (KPAI) reported statistics on the child exploitation cases it identified, including 150 cases of child economic exploitation, sexual exploitation, pornography, and cybercrimes, some of which were likely trafficking.  KPAI reported 17 cases to the police and monitored the prosecution, protection, and reintegration process, but it did not report whether it provided services to the victims or referred the cases to police for criminal investigation.

Several government agencies, including police, central and regional service centers, and Indonesian diplomatic missions, utilized separate SOPs for proactive victim identification or referral to care.  Observers expressed concern that the lack of a national SOP and the placement of trafficking under the purview of local-level police and protection agencies, which generally focused on women and children, hindered the identification of rural and male trafficking victims.  For example, government officials reported they lacked adequate SOPs to screen for trafficking among the newly vulnerable population of Indonesian migrant workers in Cambodia.  The government did not report specific instances in which authorities arrested, detained, fined, or otherwise punished trafficking victims for crimes traffickers compelled them to commit.  However, due to lack of formal identification procedures and training among front-line officials, authorities may have arrested or deported some unidentified trafficking victims.

A general lack of adequate protection and reintegrative care, coupled with low awareness among village and local leaders, increased the risk of re-trafficking, particularly among fishermen exploited in forced labor at sea.  The government operated shelters and service centers for victims of crimes, including trafficking, but did not report how many trafficking victims it referred to or assisted at these facilities in 2022.  The government coordinated assistance for victims of abuse, including trafficking victims, through local integrated service centers for women and children (P2TP2A), located in all 34 provinces and approximately 436 districts.  The centers could provide short-term medical care, legal aid, and reintegration, but the services varied based on local leadership and funding.  LPSK operated an undisclosed number of shelters for victims and witnesses to crimes who faced threats or intimidation, including trafficking victims.  LPSK did not permit shelter residents full freedom of movement, retained their passports, and did not permit residents to seek employment, reportedly for security reasons.  MOSA operated 41 shelters that could assist victims of crimes, including trafficking.  According to MOSA’s SOPs, shelters could only receive and release victims with approval of another government agency.  The government dispatched therapists to Cambodia to assist Indonesian trafficking victims prior to their repatriation.  The government did not provide legal alternatives to the removal of foreign victims to countries where they may face hardship or retribution.

INP reported 668 victims (357 female and 311 male) in 133 cases who mostly participated in the investigation process, compared with approximately 81 in 2021.  LPSK reported 208 victims participated in investigations and prosecutions.  Although regulations permitted video testimony and pre-recorded testimony for some female and child trafficking victims, some judges continued to require victims to testify in person.  Many trafficking victims chose to not participate in trials because authorities required them to remain in government shelters – in which they lacked freedom of movement, travel documents, the ability to work, and consistent funding for meals and incidentals.  In some cases, authorities did not track victims released from MOSA shelters, including for purposes of keeping the victims informed of the cases against traffickers and to gather their testimony.  As a result, only nine of the more than 241 trafficking victims repatriated from Cambodia reportedly participated in trials against the alleged traffickers.

Judges could order compensation and restitution in trafficking cases.  Article 50 of the 2007 law permitted judges to substitute additional imprisonment for restitution if the trafficker did not have sufficient assets.  Prosecutors reported foreign corporations and other traffickers could shield their assets, and many judges elected to order the additional imprisonment.  Nevertheless, LPSK sought 5.3 billion rupiah ($309,310) in restitution for 209 trafficking victims, an increase from $283,073 requested for 177 victims in 2021.  Courts only approved 1.1 billion rupiah ($70,840), however, and there were jurisdictional variations to how often courts awarded restitution.  MOWECP signed an MOU with LPSK and KPAI to increase the number of restitution requests for child victims of crime, including trafficking.  With a foreign government, the government trained prosecutors and police officers across several provinces on victim-centered approaches and seeking restitution in trafficking cases.  Labor courts could also order defendants to pay compensation, and many labor trafficking victims, especially in fishing, pursued this relief because of its speed and the greater likelihood of financial relief.  The labor courts, however, did not always award adequate relief; for example, during the reporting period, one forced labor victim in fishing secured a compensation award for less than the amount of his unpaid wages, on top of the eight months that he had pursued the case without government assistance.  The government did not report whether labor courts referred any potential trafficking cases to police.

Several ministries and agencies, including MOWECP, MOSA, and BP2MI, continued to operate hotlines that could receive trafficking-related calls.  In 2022, BP2MI’s hotline and complaint system received 1,987 complaints from Indonesia workers overseas; it assessed 60 of the calls were suspected trafficking cases and 1,269 had trafficking indicators, such as illegal recruitment and false documentation.  This was an increase from receiving 1,702 complaints, 59 of which were suspected trafficking cases, in 2021.  BP2MI referred the cases to police, but police did not report initiating any investigations based on the calls.  Separately, BP2MI also reported between 2020 and 2022, it came into contact with 80,000 Indonesian migrant workers in distress and assessed 90 percent of them were victims of exploitation, including trafficking.  BP2MI did not report how many of these cases it reported to police for investigation or if and how it assisted the victims.  In 2022, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) provided protective services, including temporary shelter at its overseas missions, to 1,018 Indonesian trafficking victims, 507 cases of which victims self-reported through MFA’s online portal.  This was a substantial increase from assisting 391 trafficking cases via 256 complaints to its portal in 2021.  In 2022, the MFA identified more than 400 and repatriated more than 240 Indonesian forced labor victims from Cambodia, where most if not all had been subjected to forced labor in cyber scam operations.  The government operated two Seafarers Corners (ISC), in Taiwan and South Africa.  The government also operated two centers in Indonesia to receive complaints from and assist exploited fishermen.  For the second year, the government did not report whether the centers received any complaints or whether it assisted fishermen through any other mechanisms.  The government last reported repatriating 589 Indonesian fishermen from abuse or exploitation on 98 People’s Republic of China- (PRC) flagged fishing vessels in 2020.


The government maintained efforts to prevent trafficking.  The government had a national anti-trafficking task force, coordinated by MOWECP and chaired by the Ministry of Human Development and Culture.  The task force conducted one national coordination meeting and one ministerial-level meeting in 2022.  It finalized the 2020-2024 anti-trafficking NAP, which required each ministry and agency to allocate resources for and conduct anti-trafficking activities.  In the past, 245 municipalities and districts and every province except Papua and West Papua had established local anti-trafficking task forces, but not all task forces remained active, and many suffered from insufficient funding, lack of coordination, and lack of understanding of trafficking.  For the second year, the government did not report the task force’s budget.  The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) conducted 14,627 pre-announced inspections of formal sector workplaces in 2022, including 11 on palm oil plantations.  MOM did not identify any child labor violations; it did not report whether it identified any indicators of trafficking.  MOM did not have sufficient staff to fully inspect all formal sector workplaces, and it did not have authority to inspect the informal sector.  In January 2023, Indonesian workers at a PRC national-owned nickel mining company protested poor working conditions and alleged they received lower pay than the PRC workers; two workers died at the protest. The Indonesian government criticized the PRC companies’ working conditions but did not report any efforts to investigate the company for labor law violations or assist the workers.

The 2017 migrant worker law mandated that provincial governments – instead of private companies – oversee pre-departure vocational training and placement of migrant workers.  The government did not report provincial governments’ efforts to implement this mandate.  Although a 2020 regulation of the 2017 migrant worker law defined and exempted Indonesian migrant workers from placement fees, including fees for flights, visas, passports, job training, and accommodation, many workers still reported paying these fees, including 89 percent of Indonesian fishermen surveyed from 2021-2022.  The government did not report suspending or revoking the licenses of any recruitment agencies or referring any to police for investigation of trafficking crimes.  This is compared to MOM suspending the licenses of 11 recruitment agencies in 2021 and suspending five licenses and revoking 111 in 2020 for reasons such as unsafe accommodations in dormitories, document forgery, coercive or deceptive recruitment practices, underage recruitment, illegal fees, and contravening Indonesia’s moratorium on migrant work in several countries.  After confirming that the staffing companies did not have legal authorization to send workers abroad, the government prevented several flights of more than 600 Indonesian migrant workers from traveling to Cambodia and arrested five individuals involved in the recruitment.  The government maintained several policies and practices that increased migrant workers’ vulnerability to traffickers.  A 2020 implementing regulation of the 2017 migrant worker law required married migrant workers to obtain permission from their spouse to work abroad.  A separate policy banned the placement of Indonesian migrant workers in 21 Middle Eastern and North African nations. The government confiscated the passports of Indonesians repatriated from situations of trafficking abroad.  Although the government assessed these policies protected vulnerable workers, the UN, international organizations, and NGOs continued to argue they instead increased the likelihood that workers would migrate illegally, heightening their vulnerability to traffickers.  The government had MOUs with nine countries in the Asia-Pacific and Middle East regions for the recruitment, placement, and protection of Indonesian migrant workers.  It continued to negotiate an additional MOU with the Government of Brunei.  The government began renegotiating its group MOU with seven government ministries and agencies to include specific roles for MOM and LPSK.

The government did not effectively implement labor regulations for the fishing sector.  An NGO reported indications of debt-based coercion, deception, intimidation, threats, document retention, withholding of wages, and physical abuse among workers across multiple recruitment agencies.  Civil society groups noted many Indonesian and migrant fishermen were unaware of their rights and responsibilities and unprepared for work in the absence of standardized, employer-paid pre-departure and post-arrival orientation and training.  The government issued Regulation No. 22 of 2022, as required by the 2017 migrant worker law, and it required the provision of pre-departure orientation to Indonesian migrant workers in fishing, including information on labor rights and safety at sea, but it did not specify whether the government or employers should fund and provide the orientation.  The government continued to implement a 2020 ban on Indonesian fishermen working aboard PRC-flagged vessels, vessels operated by PRC-state owned companies, and South Korean- and Taiwanese-flagged vessels operating outside of their Exclusive Economic Zones.  The government did not make efforts to reduce the demand for commercial sex acts.  It made efforts to reduce the demand for child sex tourism by coordinating with foreign governments to deny entry to known child sex offenders.


As reported over the past five years, human traffickers exploit domestic and foreign victims in Indonesia and exploit Indonesians abroad.  Each of Indonesia’s 38 provinces is a source and destination of trafficking.  Traffickers use unscrupulous recruitment agents and sub-agents, retention of identity documents, and threats of violence to keep migrants in forced labor.  Indonesian migrant workers often assume debts that both Indonesian and overseas recruitment agents exploit to coerce and retain their labor.  Labor traffickers exploit many Indonesians through force and debt-based coercion in Asia (particularly the PRC, South Korea, and Singapore) and the Middle East (particularly Saudi Arabia) in domestic work, factories, construction, and manufacturing; on Malaysian oil palm plantations; and on fishing vessels.  Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, and the Middle East host many Indonesian domestic workers who are unprotected under local labor laws and experience trafficking indicators, including excessive working hours, lack of formal contracts, physical abuse, and unpaid wages; many of these workers come from the province of East Nusa Tenggara.  The government estimates that more than two million of the six to eight million Indonesians working abroad – many of whom are women in domestic work – are undocumented or have expired visas, increasing their risk of trafficking.  Indonesian nationals who participate in Japan’s “Technical Intern Training Program” are vulnerable to forced labor.  In 2022, reports of trafficking emerged among Indonesian migrant workers picking berries in the United Kingdom.  Some workers had up to £5,000 ($6,020) debts for one season of work, and some earned less than £300 ($360) per week due to no minimum guaranteed hours and substantial deductions for transportation, visas, and language training.  In 2022, reports increased of foreign traffickers, including PRC nationals and Indonesian agents, fraudulently recruiting Indonesian men and women to Burma, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam for forced labor.  Traffickers use social media to promise the individuals, often moderate to highly educated, legitimate work in technology but upon arrival, traffickers confiscate their passports and exploit them in forced labor in cyber scam operations using debt-based coercion, threats, physical force, and false imprisonment.  In prior years, there were reports that for-profit universities in Taiwan aggressively recruited Indonesians and placed them into exploitative labor under the guise of educational opportunities.  Sex traffickers recruit Indonesian women and girls for ostensibly legitimate employment abroad and exploit them in sex trafficking, primarily in Malaysia, Taiwan, the Middle East, and Timor-Leste.

Within Indonesia, traffickers exploit adults and children in fishing, fish processing, construction, mining, and manufacturing, and on palm oil and other plantations.  Traffickers subject children to forced criminality in the illegal drug trade.  Government regulations exempt employers in certain sectors – including small and medium enterprises and textile manufacturing – from minimum wage requirements, increasing the workers’ risk to debt-based coercion.  More than 1.5 million Indonesian children between ages 10 and 17 work in agriculture, including on tobacco plantations, without protective gear, which can be an indicator of labor trafficking.  NGOs report that in the city of Bima, some professional horse racers use child jockeys, some of whom may be forced.  Early marriage practices push many rural and impoverished children into employment as new primary household earners, including pushing many into labor migration channels known for deceptive recruitment practices, debt bondage, and other forced labor indicators.  Traffickers force women and girls in labor in domestic work.  In 2021, a nickel mining company affiliated with the PRC’s Belt and Road Initiative allegedly recruited PRC national workers through unlicensed PRC-based contractors and forced them into labor through passport confiscation, wage garnishing and withholding, forced overtime, and physical beatings.  In a 2022 survey of 333 PRC workers in Indonesia, only 27 percent had valid work permits, 23 percent reported they could not leave their workplaces, and seven workers had died at worksites without explanation.  North Korean nationals working in Indonesia may be operating under exploitative working conditions and display multiple indicators of forced labor.

According to an international organization, up to 30 percent of individuals in commercial sex in Indonesia are girl sex trafficking victims.  Sex traffickers often use debt or offers of employment in restaurants, factories, or domestic service to coerce and deceive women and girls into commercial sex, notably in Batam and Jakarta and in facilities such as spas, hotels, bars, and karaoke establishments.  Traffickers also exploit women and girls in sex trafficking near mining operations in Central Sulawesi, Maluku, Papua, and Jambi provinces.  Traffickers increasingly use online platforms to recruit children for sex trafficking and men for labor trafficking.  Child sex tourism is prevalent in the Riau Islands bordering Singapore.  Bali is a destination for Indonesian and foreign child sex tourists.  The government tacitly accepted a religious practice whereby Middle Eastern tourists come to Indonesia, particularly Puncak district in Bogor, and pay more than $700 for a “contract marriage,” usually lasting up to one week, that allows them to have extramarital sex with girls as young as nine without violating Islamic law.

Indonesians whose homes or livelihoods were destroyed by natural disasters, the approximately four million children the government deems “neglected,” and approximately 16,000 children experiencing homelessness are vulnerable to trafficking.  Government failure to prevent companies from encroaching on Indigenous communities’ land, sometimes in collusion with the military and local police, contributes to displacement that leaves some ethnic minorities vulnerable to trafficking.  Endemic corruption among officials creates trafficking vulnerabilities in the travel, hospitality, and labor recruitment industries.  Widespread social stigma and discrimination against LGBTQI+ individuals and persons living with HIV/AIDS complicates their access to formal sector employment, creating a risk of trafficking through unsafe informal sector employment.

Some traffickers target Indonesian fishermen from Java, including poor farm workers, fraudulently recruit them with promises of high salaries and good working conditions, provide illicit travel documents, and make them sign contracts so hard to break that experts call them “slavery contracts.”  In Indonesian waters and elsewhere, some senior vessel crew force fishermen to engage in illegal practices, making them vulnerable to criminalization.  Some senior vessel crew on PRC, Korean, Vanuatuan, Taiwan, Thai, Malaysian, Italian, UK, and Philippines-flagged and/or owned fishing vessels operating in Indonesian, Thai, Sri Lankan, Mauritian, Namibian, and Indian waters subject Indonesian fishermen to forced labor.  Most Indonesian fishermen work aboard vessels in Taiwan and Korea’s secluded distant water fleets, impeding their ability to report abuse and exploitation.  Recruitment agencies in Burma, Indonesia, and Thailand similarly lure fishermen with promises of high wages but then charge fees, curtail deposits, assign them fake identity documents and labor permits, and force them to fish for long hours on vessels that operate under complex multinational flagging and ownership arrangements and sometimes do not return to shore for months or years at a time, which permits abusive senior crews to exploit workers with impunity.  Fishermen on these vessels have reported low or unpaid salaries; coercive tactics such as contract discrepancies, document retention, restricted communication and movement, poor living and working conditions; physical violence; and severe physical and sexual abuse.  In a survey of 35 fishermen on Indonesian-flagged vessels, 71 percent reported they did not have possession of their identity documents, and more than 88 percent reported substantial salary deductions and irregular wages – indicators of forced labor.  Indonesian fishermen have reported persistent physical violence, 20-hour shifts, and lack of food on PRC fishing vessels – indicators of forced labor – and authorities have removed hundreds of exploited Indonesians from such vessels and recorded the deaths of 12 others between from 2019- 2020.  Some PRC-, Korean-, and Taiwanese-flagged vessels keep Indonesian workers after completion of their contracts until the company secures replacement workers.