JAKARTA, Indonesia (CNS) — Indonesian church officials welcomed a government move to tackle human trafficking by making it easier for migrant workers to obtain legal status and necessary documents.

The Ministry of Manpower and Transmigration has launched a one-stop service to issue official documentation to migrant workers in Kupang, capital of the Catholic majority East Nusa Tenggara province, which has the highest number of human trafficking cases, ucanews.com reported.

Obtaining permits formerly was a long process that could take months, said Samuel Adu, a Manpower and Transmigration official.


“This was exploited by brokers who passed on workers illegally along a human trafficking chain,” he said.

With the new system, the process of obtaining permits takes less than a week.

Father Paulus Christian Siswantoko, secretary of the Indonesian bishops’ Commission for Justice, Peace and Pastoral for Migrant-Itinerant People, welcomed the effort, but asked the government to make sure the new system stays free of corruption.

“Corruption is commonly practiced in issuing permits,” he said.

Franciscan Father Yohanes Kristoforus Tara, coordinator of his order’s justice, peace and integrity of creation commission in Timor, welcomed the move but also called on the government to provide would-be migrants with skills training.

Helping migrant people learn new skills would make government efforts against trafficking a “little more comprehensive,” he said.

Reyna Usman, another official at the Minister of Manpower and Transmigration, said the new service also will help the families of migrant workers stay in touch with family members far from home.

“The family will know where, with whom and for how long the migrant worker is working as all this information will be logged,” she said.

According to the East Nusa Tenggara Regional Police, more than 1,600 people were trafficked during the past two years, with many being children.

Aplonia Sara Mali Bere, a former migrant worker from Atambua in Belu district who twice went to Malaysia to work illegally, said the new system should afford better protection for people like her.

“If the government is now trying to make things easier, I’m sure a lot of workers will go through official channels,” she said.