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 Red tape contributed to plight of murdered HK workers

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BerichtOnderwerp: Red tape contributed to plight of murdered HK workers    do 6 nov 2014 - 5:17

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta, Thursday November 06 2014

The gruesome murder of two Indonesian women in Hong Kong has brought attention to the alleged practice of human trafficking and activists have called on President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo to follow through on his campaign pledge to overhaul the country’s migrant worker protection system.

Officials confirmed on Wednesday that the victims, 32-year-old Seneng Mujiasih, a.k.a. Jesse Lorena, and Sumartiningsih, 23, traveled to Hong Kong initially as domestic workers.

But their work visas expired long before their bodies were found at the apartment of Rurik Jutting, their alleged killer, in Wan Chai, Hong Kong, last Saturday.

Seneng’s work permit expired in 2012, while Sumartiningsih had lastly entered Hong Kong on a social-visit visa.

Local media in Hong Kong suggested that both Seneng and Sumartiningsih had worked as prostitutes in Wan Chai’s red light district.

Migrant Care executive director Anis Hidayah said that the facts indicated that the two could have fallen victims to human trafficking rings after their initial working permits expired.

Anis said that the case also reflected the government’s dismal protection of overseas migrant workers.

“We have given assistance to a number of cases in Hong Kong where many migrant workers complained about the complicated processes required to have their working permits extended. The cost for the extension alone could total Rp 35 million [US$2,876], which the workers must pay in installments deducted from their monthly salaries,” she said.

“This is a huge burden for them and we’re not talking about the lengthy processes that also require them to deal with local agencies in Indonesia,” Anis said.

As a result, many workers with expired permits, particularly those coming from poor family backgrounds, fall victim to human trafficking rings.

The Manpower Ministry, meanwhile, has pledged to investigate the local employment agencies that dispatched Seneng and Sumartiningsih to Hong Kong.

On Tuesday, the ministry summoned Tjitro Tandjung Djaja, the president director of PT Arafah Bintang Perkasa, the agency that had sent Sumartiningsih to Hong Kong, said the ministry’s director general of Labor Placement, Reyna Usman.

“Preliminary findings showed that [Sumartiningsih] left for Hong Kong in October 2010 to work for two years. Her contract expired in January 2013,” he said.

Hong Kong is home to around 200,000 Indonesian workers, mostly female domestic helpers. An estimated 6.5 million Indonesians are currently working overseas; from 75 to 80 percent of them are domestic workers.

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