Jakarta (ANTARA) - Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi affirmed that Indonesia must join multilateral efforts to prevent South East Asia from becoming a safe haven for human traffickers targeting Indonesian citizens.

"It is so important for us to cooperate to ensure that our region will not become the safe haven for human traffickers," the minister stated at the 2023 Hassan Wirajuda Indonesian Protection Award event here, Friday evening.

Marsudi highlighted a rising trend of recruiting foreigners, including Indonesians, to be employed in online scam operations in Southeast Asia over these past years.

Indonesian workers were vulnerable to becoming victims of human trafficking operations and got exploited by those running online scam businesses, she pointed out.

Marsudi recorded 3,428 cases of Indonesians being dragged into online scam operations, mostly in Southeast Asia, since 2021.

The number of cases increases significantly with each passing year, and 40 percent of them are evidently related to human trafficking operations, she stated.

In solving the problem, Marsudi underlined the importance of preventive measures to save Indonesians from falling into the traps of perpetrators of this transnational crime.

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To this end, she suggested that preventive elements get included in the endeavors to protect Indonesian citizens rather than just handling and resolving cases.

Preventive efforts include public education regarding a safe migration process and effective pre-departure program for prospective Indonesian migrant workers, she stated.

Intensive coordination among related ministries and agencies at the levels of central and regional governments as well as collaboration with non-governmental organizations is also deemed necessary, Marsudi stated.

Regarding the 2023 Hassan Wirajuda Indonesian Protection Award event, 23 winners received the awards from the Indonesian Foreign Ministry for their excellent contributions to the protection of Indonesians abroad.

One of the winners was Adjunct Senior Commissioner Ni Made Pujewati, a police officer from the West Nusa Tenggara police headquarters.

Pujewati had significantly contributed to the resolution of 55 reported human trafficking cases involving 94 suspects in 2023.

The Indonesian Foreign Ministry's Director for the Protection of Citizens and Legal Entities Judha Nugraha earlier revealed that the total number of online scam cases involving Indonesians, recorded from 2020 to March 2024, stood at 3,704.

Some 1,114 of the recorded cases occurred in Cambodia, while the remaining 2,590 cases were found in countries, such as Myanmar, the Philippines, Laos, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, and the United Arab Emirates, he remarked.

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Translator: Nabil Ihsan, Rahmad Nasution
Editor: Yuni Arisandy Sinaga
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