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Jakarta Post

Migrant Care urges humane treatment, protection for TKI returning amid COVID-19

  • Apriza Pinandita
    Apriza Pinandita

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Tue, May 5, 2020   /   09:29 am
Migrant Care urges humane treatment, protection for TKI returning amid COVID-19 Indonesian migrant workers disembark the Voyager of the Sea on April 16 at Benoa Port in Denpasar, Bali. The workers, who had recently returned to the country and submitted to COVID-19 rapid tests, were transported from the vessel to a nearby hotel for quarantine. (JP/Zul Trio Anggono)

Migrant Care called on the Indonesian government on Monday to avoid a heavy-handed approach to health security toward repatriating Indonesian migrant workers (TKI), and instead to maintain protection of the workers' rights upon their arrival. 

The labor rights advocacy group raised its call shortly after President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo urged authorities to tighten monitoring over several COVID-19 clusters in the country, including migrant workers who were returning to the archipelago ahead of Idul Fitri.

Read also: Indonesian Navy intercepts more migrant workers returning from Malaysia through illegal routes

Migrant Care executive director Wahyu Susilo said he appreciated the President’s concern for migrant workers amid the nation's concerted efforts to mitigate the epidemic and its impacts 

“However, Migrant Care urges the government to protect the rights of TKI and their families as regulated in Law No. 18/2017 [on migrant workers] and the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families that Indonesia has ratified with Law No. 6/2012,” Wahyu said in a statement on Monday, referring to the United Nations treaty.

Continuing, he said that the authorities must not be heavy-handed in their approach in monitoring the returning workers, and should avoid excessive law enforcement measures.

“The [President's] statement regarding the possible exodus of migrant workers must not be used as an excuse to stigmatize them [as] carriers of the disease,” he added.

Migrant Care has encouraged the government to treat the returning migrant workers humanely, in keeping with human rights principles. If the government declares the returning workers as persons under monitoring (ODPs), it must provide the workers with quarantine facilities and social assistance.

"Moreover, the government has to provide any returning migrant workers who are patients under surveillance [PDPs] with isolation facilities. Any [related] expenses must be covered by the government,” said Wahyu. 

Read also: High influx of Indonesian migrant workers from Malaysia, despite call to stay amid outbreak

Jokowi on Monday released an estimate that 89,000 migrant workers had returned to Indonesia, with a possibility of 16,000 more repatriating in the coming days.

The figure is nearly 240 percent larger than the earlier estimate from the Indonesia Migrant Worker Protection Agency (BP2MI), which said it expected around 37,000 workers to return to the country after their contracts expired in April-May. 

According to Antara News, BP2MI's records on the migrant workers who had returned to Indonesia show that around 15,400 returned from Malaysia, 11,300 from Hong Kong and 3,507 from Singapore.