Jakarta, 18 Sept. (AKI) - Humans rights organisations have denounced the
alleged enslavement and exploitation of thousands of Indonesian children
employed on palm plantations in neighbouring Malaysia.
"Both Indonesia and Malaysia have ratified the convention against
slavery, and both have not acted, allowing children to be enslaved in a
systematic manner," said Arist Merdeka Sirait, secretary general of the
Indonesian National Commission on Child Protection (KNPA) in an
interview with Adnkronos International (AKI).
"We now demand that Jakarta use its diplomatic channels to put an end to
this scandal," said Sirait.
The Forum of Non-Permanent Teachers recently reported alleged child
exploitation in the Malaysian plantation hub in Sabah to the National
Commission on Child Protection.
Wahyu Susilo, representative of non-governmental organisation Migrant
Care Indonesia said that the problem of child slavery is old and that
the group had been trying for years to get the Indonesian government to
"We knew about the problem for many years, but putting pressure on the
Indonesian government did not bring any results," said Susilo.
"Jakarta is guilty for not having done enough. But Malaysia is the main
responsible partner because the abuses take place in their territory."
The KNPA also said that children are forced to work for long hours, in
many cases without pay. They are also forced to live in isolated
makeshift shacks without running water or electricity.
Many of the children have never been to school and have been subjected
to violence and sexual abuse, said the KNPA.
Official data from the Indonesian consulate in Kota Kinabalu, the
capital of the Sabah state in Malaysia, says more than 330,000
Indonesians work in at least 103 palm oil plantations in Malaysia.
Almost half of them are illegal workers but it's not clear how many of
them are children.