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Human trafficking: NGO calls for Indonesia, Malaysia 'modern slavery' investigation

ABC Radio Australia - September 12, 2016

Samantha Hawley, Indonesia Under the mound of dry dirt, surrounded by rocks as a border, is the body of 19-year-old Yulfrida Selan a poor, uneducated young woman and a victim of human trafficking.

Police acknowledge Yulfrida was targeted by a human trafficking ring and, just 10 months after she was sent to Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur to work as a maid, her body was returned to her shocked family.

"All I could do was cry," her mother, 42-year-old Yuliana Nomleni, told the ABC. "I couldn't say anything because I was in such a state of panic, can you imagine the feeling of a mother?"

With a promise of anonymity, a serving East Nusa Tengarra policeman agreed to be interviewed by the ABC. The officer alleged senior police and immigration officers were facilitating human trafficking. "They are officials whose positions are in the crimes and detective divisions," he said.

"In the detective division, they'd be the number one guy in the division and the same goes in immigration. I saw human trafficking suspects who were arrested and detained by police and released after two or three weeks. Then they recruited minors, kids who dropped out of school. The exact same guys."

East Nusa Tenggara police spokesman Jules Abast said more than a dozen had been arrested in relation to Yulfrida's case, including one former policeman.

"They're all from the private sector," he told the ABC. "From 2015, there are about 30 human trafficking cases that we are currently dealing with."

Mr Abast said Malaysian police confirmed via an autopsy Yulfrida's cause of death was suicide by hanging. But a second post-mortem examination conducted locally revealed blunt force trauma on the body.

The report, seen by the ABC, shows there was bruising on the girl's temple, chest, elbow, back and hands. Police confirmed she was the third victim from the same province returned home dead since April.

The head of Tusan village, Melky Musu, told the ABC he wanted the Government to investigate.

"She was enslaved and treated like an animal," he said. "We would like the Government to investigate the case so our worries, pain and concern can be lifted."

'Strong indications' Yulfrida's organs trafficked

The family, shocked by autopsy sutures on the girl's body, demanded the second post-mortem and are concerned her organs may have been trafficked. The forensic doctor found it difficult to reconstruct sliced organs and the brain, which had all been placed in the chest and stomach cavity.

"We suspect that there are strong indications that the organs inside her body were sold. We don't want any organs that belonged to her to be used as commodities of trade," Mr Musu said.

Local NGO group PIAR said it has data showing 11,000 people have been trafficked from East Nusa Tengarra since 2009. PIAR spokeswoman Sarah Mboeik said: "This is modern day slavery in NTT and maybe also in Indonesia."

"This is not only human trafficking but it's modern slavery, because there is no protection given to their human rights," she added.

"We are grateful that some of the syndicate has now been arrested, but frankly these people are merely field actors. I ask that this investigation includes police involvement, but also in relation, administration officers and immigration, because they are also part of the mafia that we need to uncover."

Yulfrida's family is unlikely to ever receive definitive answers about her fate. "For us and the family, she is a victim of human trafficking," the village leader said.

Source: http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/international/2016-09-12/human-trafficking-ngo-calls-for-indonesia-malaysia-modern-slavery-investigation/1616750.

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