Victims of forced labor are not always 'worked like slaves' but underworked, as slavemasters often take on more workers than they need and profit by charging them for accommodation and food in a cycle of spiraling debt and abuse, British researchers said. (Reuters Photo/Chaiwat Subprasom)

51 Indonesian Human Trafficking Victims Found at Malaysian Factory


MARCH 30, 2017

Jakarta. At least 51 Indonesian citizens have been identified as victims of human trafficking at a bird's nest factory in Selangor, Malaysia, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on Thursday (30/03).

"Of the around 150 workers there, 51 have been identified as victims of human trafficking. They are currently being sheltered at a safehouse for women, under the auspices of Malaysian authorities," Foreign Ministry spokesman Arrmanatha Nasir told a press briefing.

The Indonesian Embassy in Malaysia conferred with police on Feb. 28 about suspicious activity at the factory. However, due to a lack of evidence at the time, the local police did not immediately investigate the matter.

Indonesian Embassy staff therefore took it upon themselves to visit the site and conduct their own investigation. Through their findings and additional information provided by media outlets in the region, embassy officials were able to submit adequate evidence to the Malaysian authorities, who subsequently raided the factory earlier this week.

The Foreign Ministry did not disclose the name of the factory implicated in the case, but Malaysian state news agency Bernama reported that it belongs to a man with the formal title of datuk, which is a token of honor in that country.

The factory workers were reportedly forced to work more than 16 hours per day without any rest days.

Arrmanatha said the 51 Indonesian victims will stay in the shelter provided by Malaysian authorities until the case is completed on April 18.

The remainder of the workers found at the factory – comprising 92 Indonesians and three other foreign nationals – have been identified as voluntary illegal workers and are currently being held at an immigration facility in Putrajaya, 32 kilometers south of the capital Kuala Lumpur, where their case is being handled.

"Such cases have occurred a few times before, and in the future, we will continue to develop our partnership with Malaysia to combat human trafficking," Arrmanatha said.