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New passport rule stigmatizes, burdens migrant workers: NGO

  • News Desk
    News Desk

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta | Mon, March 20, 2017 | 09:51 am
New passport rule stigmatizes, burdens migrant workers: NGO Foreign Minister Retno LP Marsudi speaks to Indonesian migrant workers in Malaysia during her recent trip to Penang and Johor Bahru, Malaysia, from Wednesday to Saturday. (Courtesy of the Foreign Ministry/File)

Migrant Care executive director Wahyu Susilo said a new regulation that requires aspiring Indonesian migrant workers to have Rp 25 million on a bank account when applying for a passport was a policy based on prejudice and suspicion.

On Friday, Directorate General of Immigration spokesperson Agung Sampurno said the Immigration Office had issued a circular on March 6 that stipulated a bank balance requirement for passport applicants. However, the new regulation would be imposed only on non-registered migrant workers who did not meet other requirements.

Agung further explained that the policy was aimed at curbing the growing number of non-procedural workers going to Malaysia and Middle Eastern countries.

“It will potentially increase human rights violations and abuse of authority and power as well as bribery and corruption in the management of passports,” Wahyu said in a release issued Sunday.

(Read also: Indonesia boosts efforts to protect migrant workers in Malaysia)

He said that if the circular were intended to prevent human trafficking, it would be ineffective, because it would raise the risk of debt bondage against the workers, which would result in more human trafficking.

He added that while the circular did not specifically mention an obligatory bank balance of Rp 25 million, officials had confirmed that figure.

Wahyu called on President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo to call the Director General of Immigration to account for discriminatory effects of the new regulation, which was interpreted by officials as a legitimate tool to demand proof of Rp 25 million in savings. (dis/wit)

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