Increasing Victim Identification in Indonesia

Increasing Victim Identification and Improving Access to Criminal Justice in Human Trafficking Cases in Indonesia

Implementing Agency: NEXUS Institute

Geographic Scope: Indonesia

Years: 2016-2018

Project Summary: In many countries in the world, identification of trafficking victims remains a largely haphazard, inefficient and ineffective process. Many trafficking victims fall between the cracks and are never officially identified or recognized as victims of human trafficking in either their home country or in the country in which they are exploited. This failure to identify victims is one of the greatest obstacles facing governments and civil society alike in achieving the progress needed in combating the crime and human rights violation of human trafficking. The lack of identification means that no criminal process is triggered to investigate, prosecute and convict the traffickers. Nor is legal redress through civil action likely for victims of trafficking who have not been identified through official processes. At the same time, victims will not receive care needed to recover, which correlates with low numbers of victims enabled to cooperate with investigations and to testify as witnesses against trafficking operations. In short, identification is the first step, indeed the necessary step, to end the impunity of traffickers and to secure access to justice for trafficking victims.

While this is an issue for most countries, the work of this project focuses on Indonesia. In Indonesia, at the village level, where most trafficking victims return and live, doing their best to reintegrate into family and society after their trafficking ordeal, there is a lack of capacity among frontline actors to screen and/or identify these returned trafficking victims and refer them for formal identification and protection. NEXUS’ past research and interviews with trafficking victims in Indonesia found that there are individuals and institutions that, if trained and sensitized on this issue at the village level, can contribute greatly to the identification and referral of unidentified and unassisted trafficking victims. Transforming the findings of this research to improved practices in the field, NEXUS is implementing this pilot project in three villages in three districts in West Java to increase the capacity of village-based police and other duty bearers to identify potential trafficking victims and refer them to the relevant institutions for formal identification and protection, including access to justice.

West Java, Indonesia


This project will increase communication, cooperation and competency among police and village stakeholders to effectively and appropriately recognize signs of human trafficking and refer previously unidentified trafficking victims for formal identification. In so doing, the project will increase the number of Indonesian trafficking victims who are formally identified, informed of their rights and referred for protection. This project will also review and analyze “real life” evidence from interviews with trafficking victims and, based upon that evidence, offer concrete steps and tools to address identification problems that thwart the initiation of the criminal justice process as well as other appropriate responses that occur when the human trafficking framework is triggered. The model and approach piloted in this project will be applicable beyond Indonesia, offering guidance that can lead to an improved ability to identify trafficked persons, thereby strengthening the criminal justice response and the provision of assistance and protection to further victims’ recovery.

The project is supported by the Australian Government through the Australia-Asia Program to Combat Trafficking in Persons (AAPTIP).

The project description is available in English and in Bahasa Indonesian.

Project Publications:

Directory of Services for Indonesian Trafficking Victims and Victim/Witnesses: West Java and Jakarta (2017)

Available in Bahasa Indonesian

This Directory of Services is a vital tool for Indonesia trafficking victims to access the assistance needed to recover and reintegrate after trafficking. Many Indonesian trafficking victims return home without having been identified or assisted. They return to live in their home communities without knowing that they have rights and entitlements as victims of the crime of human trafficking. Too often they are also unaware of the services and support available to them from the Indonesian Government and civil society at the national, district and local levels. This user-friendly, accessible Directory provides practical information to trafficked persons in Indonesia about the services available to them, which can support their recovery and reintegration, and how to receive these services. The Directory covers government and NGO services in Jakarta and seven districts in West Java and provides information about what constitutes human trafficking, the different forms of human trafficking, examples of different trafficking experiences and answers to frequently asked questions on this complex and important issue. It also provides information about assistance and services available to those who wish to serve as victim/witnesses in legal proceedings against traffickers. The information is provided in simple, comprehensible language and a visually accessible format to ensure comprehension of information across age, language capacity and level of education.


Identification and Referral of Trafficking Victims in Indonesia. Guidelines for Frontline Responders and Multi-Disciplinary Teams at the Village Level (forthcoming)

Large numbers of Indonesian trafficking victims return home without ever being formally identified as victims of human trafficking or referred for assistance. Some self return after escaping their trafficking exploitation. Others are sent home by employers but without any pay. Still others are deported without being screened for trafficking. The result is that many Indonesian trafficking victims are not aware that the abuses they have suffered rise to the level of human trafficking and that they have rights and entitlements as victims of this serious crime. Moreover, too many trafficking victims are not aware of and do not have access to the assistance and support they need to recover after trafficking, including access to justice. With so many trafficking victims going unidentified and unassisted, urgent attention is needed to how best to identify and support them in their recovery and access to justice. These Guidelines fill this important gap by working at a village level to identify and refer previously unidentified and unassisted trafficking victims. The Identification and Referral Guidelines support the preliminary identification and referral of victims at a village level in Indonesia, equipping multi-disciplinary frontline responders at the village level with the skills and knowledge to identify presumed victims of trafficking and refer them onward for assistance and formal victim identification. The Guidelines are a practical tool that can be utilized in efforts to enhance the voluntary and informed identification of previously unidentified victims who are living in their home communities and do not have access to identification and assistance. The Guidelines provide practical step-by-step guidance to village-based frontline responders on how to conduct preliminary identification and referral of a presumed victim. They assist village-based stakeholders from various disciplines in identifying and appropriately referring presumed trafficking victims, both male and female, adult and children.

While being piloted in Indonesia, these guidelines have broader relevance, offering practical models, resources and guidance to improve the identification of trafficking victims in their home communities and their referral for assistance and as well as access to justice.

Photograph by Peter Biro for the NEXUS Institute: A man labors in a field in Indonesia. All rights reserved.