Jakarta (ANTARA) - The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Embassy of the Republic of Indonesia (KBRI) in Phnom Penh organized the return of 28 Indonesians who reportedly fell victim to human trafficking (TPPO) from Cambodia.

The 28 Indonesian citizens arrived at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport at 4:20 p.m. local time on Wednesday (October 4, 2023). They were accompanied by embassy staff from Phnom Penh.

"They have conducted an examination by local authorities with a result that indicates that they are TPPO victims," the Minister of Foreign Affairs said in Jakarta on Thursday.

Earlier, 27 of the 28 Indonesians were indicated to have been exploited by online scammers in Poipet, Banteay Meanchey province, Cambodia.

Through intensive coordination between KBRI Phnom Penh and the Cambodian Police, the Indonesians were picked up from a lodging in Poipet on June 28 and transferred to the Department of Anti-Human Trafficking and Juvenile Protection Office, Phnom Penh Central Police, for a follow-up examination.

Then, on July 14, the 27 Indonesians were relocated to a temporary shelter managed by an organization called Caritas.

On September 5, the Cambodian Police rescued one more Indonesian citizen who previously worked for the same company as the other 27 nationals, but had been shifted to another online company in the same province.

The person was then transferred to Phnom Penh and placed in the Caritas shelter till the repatriation formalities of all the Indonesian nationals could be completed.

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During their stay at the Caritas shelter, KBRI Phnom Penh provided them with logistical and medicinal aid and financed the hospital costs of three Indonesians. KBRI Phnom Penh provided a translator during their interviews with the Cambodian Police as well as the Cambodian Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans, and Youth Rehabilitation.

Thereafter, the Cambodian ministry sent a letter to KBRI Phnom Penh, stating that based on the interviews, the 28 Indonesians were indicated to be TPPO victims.

Following up on the letter, KBRI Phnom Penh coordinated with the Cambodian Immigration Department regarding the immigration status and permits for the 28 Indonesian citizens.

After their repatriation to Indonesia, the 28 citizens have been accommodated in the Ministry of Social Affairs' RPTC Bambu Apus for rehabilitation before returning to their places of origin.

The citizens will also undergo a follow-up examination by the Criminal Investigation Agency of the Indonesian National Police (Bareskrim Polri) for law enforcement and an investigation into recruiting agents in Indonesia.

Cambodia has emerged as the country with the highest increase in online scams perpetrated on Indonesian citizens, with the number of cases increasing eightfold in the period from 2021 to 2022.

"The Indonesian government has constantly advised Indonesian citizens to be cautious of accepting job opportunities that lead to exploitation by online scamming companies," the minister stated.

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Translator: Yashinta D, Azis Kurmala
Editor: Yuni Arisandy Sinaga
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