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.

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