Tanjung Balau boat tragedy: investigation leads to several arrests
JAKARTA: The ongoing intelligence gathering, surveillance and investigations in Indonesia paid off when security agencies arrested several local men for human trafficking activities.
The investigation is part of the agencies’ efforts to combat the trafficking of illegal migrant workers from Indonesia to Malaysia following an incident in December in which 21 people died.
Riau Police arrested three suspects, including the boat owner, identified as Susanto, after the vessel capsized in the waters off Tanjung Balau, Kota Tinggi in Johor.
The two suspects suspected of recruiting brokers in Batam were arrested on January 2, while Susanto was arrested in Tanjung Uban Bintan in the Riau Islands, according to online media.
During the incident, a boat believed to carry around 50 immigrants capsized in the waters of Tanjung Balau at 4.30 a.m. on December 15 in stormy weather.
The number of victims remains at 21, with 13 rescued and at least 16 still missing.
Nine of the survivors are from Lombok, and one from Batam, Pekan Baru, Jember and Tanjung Balai Karimun.
The tragedy sparked outrage and rekindled horrific memories of past incidents, most notably for Christina Aryani, a member of Commission I of the House of Representatives, who said Indonesian authorities had failed to properly address long-standing issues. date of human trafficking.
Aryani expressed hope that the tragedy would give momentum to comprehensive reform, stressing that “it is a matter of human life”.
Meanwhile, the Indonesian Migrant Worker Placement and Protection Agency revealed that people seeking work overseas were illegally paying recruiters up to 15 million rupees (RM 4,400).
Head of Lombok Central Regency Manpower and Transmigration Department Lalu Karyawan urged the public to remain vigilant against recruiters offering jobs in Malaysia.
The local government has yet to receive notice from the central government regarding the placement in Malaysia since the start of the pandemic, Indonesian news agency Antara said.
In the most recent case, authorities foiled an attempt to send 52 illegal migrants, including 34 men, 17 women and a toddler to Malaysia last Thursday (January 6).
Asahan Police Chief Asst Comm Putu Yudha Prawira said authorities arrested the captain of an unnamed boat that was due to leave for Malaysia at 8:30 p.m. that day from the waters of Asahan in Sumatra.
The suspect and his three accomplices were apparently acting on orders from a woman who was said to pay them five million rupees (around RM1470) each.
The suspect violated Law 18 of 2017 on the protection of employment, the laws on navigation and Law 21 of 2007 on the eradication of human trafficking.
The person could face a minimum of three years in prison, a maximum of 15 years and a fine of up to 600 million rupees (176,000 RM), Putu Yudha said in a statement.
On the night of January 6, the Indonesian navy acted on news that a ship was heading for Malaysia, said Asahan Navy Fleet Command Commander Young Admiral Arsyad Abdullah.
“We captured the boat and brought it ashore at 3 a.m.,” he said, adding that his team would continue to conduct regular maritime patrols in the area.
Indonesian police and navy are still investigating to prosecute other perpetrators linked to the smuggling network. – Bernama