By Ainur Rohmah
Indonesia is implementing new measures to prevent its citizens from falling prey to human traffickers and exploitative labor, officials told Anadolu Agency Saturday.
Lalu Muhammad Iqbal, director of protection and legal aid for Indonesians at the Foreign Ministry, said that the new measures, which came into force this month, are meant to tackle problems faced by Indonesian migrant workers abroad.
A new rule says that immigration officials will only issue passports to people with at least 25 million rupiah ($1880) in savings.
"The rule by the Directorate General of Immigration was in response to the rising number of illegal migrant workers," Iqbal said.
Immigration agency spokesman Agung Sampurno said that the agency found that workers without enough savings are more vulnerable to falling prey to traffickers and exploitative labor.
He stressed that the savings requirement "only applies to those who are strongly suspected to be nonprofessional migrant workers."
Since enforcement of the rule began, he said, immigration services have blocked the emigration of hundreds of people suspected of being illegal migrants workers.
"We believe the new rules will have a direct impact on the intensity of this transnational crime."
Worker safety abroad
Iqbal said the issue is a complex one for the government since "it's difficult to handle [problems] when they are outside our borders. Our authority is very limited,"
Iqbal said Indonesian officials try to help 600 Indonesian migrant workers abroad every day, some 90 percent of them illegally employed.
In 2015 Indonesia banned its citizens from working as domestic help in 21 countries, mainly in the Middle East.
According to the Foreign Ministry, more than 630,000 Indonesians work in the Middle East, but experts suggest the number is much higher once undocumented and trafficked workers are taken into account.
The government is wary of the safety of its citizens working abroad, particularly in countries in the Middle East, which has a poor record when it comes to the rights and treatment of foreign workers.