The North Sumatra Police are continuing to investigate the issue of modern slavery, with the inactive Langkat Regent, Terbit Rencana Berangin Angin, a suspect following a search by the Corruption Eradication Commission’s (KPK).
In the private residence of the chairman of the Langkat Golkar (the Party of Functional Groups) Regional Representative Council, two cage buildings were found that had been allegedly used to detain workers.
The case came to light when the KPK searched Angin’s private house in Langkat Regency on Wednesday 19th January. He was arrested in an operation carried out by the commission due to suspicions that he was receiving bribes from the arrangement of the infrastructure project package and the Education Office project for the 2020-2022 budget year.
When the KPK conducted their search, they found 27 people inside the prison-like building. Some are believed to be working in the palm oil fields belonging to the richest regent in Indonesia. The North Sumatra Police provided security during the operation.
“It is currently being investigated by a joint team of North Sumatra Police, North Sumatra Police Narcotics Directorate, Directorate of General Criminal Investigation, and the Langkat National Narcotics Agency. It turns out that the place has existed since 2012. Based on initial information, this place was used as a rehabilitation place for drug addicts,” said Head of Public Relations of North Sumatra Police, Chief Police Commissioner Hadi Wahyudi, Monday 24th January.
Following an inspection in 2017, Langkat National Narcotics Agency had granted the place an official permit. However, when the current arrangement was discovered and became national news, it turned out that the cage – called a rehabilitation centre – no longer had an official permit.
Wahyudi explained that there were two human cages which are 6×6 metres in size. The two cells were filled with 27 people who allegedly work in oil palm plantations every day.
“The 27 people were taken there by their respective parents. They came there, accompanied by their parents by signing a statement. They’ve been contained, and among other things, have been rehabilitated, fostered, and educated for 1.5 years. They are generally residents around the location,” he added.
Migrant Care Chair Anis Hidayah on 24th January revealed that the number of workers is likely higher than currently reported. They are said to work at least 10 hours every day.
After work, they are put in cages, so they have no way to get out. The workers are even suspected of being fed poor food and only twice a day, they may have been subjected to torture and may have not been paid a salary.
“They certainly don’t have access to communication with outsiders. They have been tortured, beaten, bruised, and injured,” said Hidayah.
Migrant Care considers that this situation clearly contradicts human rights, the principles of decent work based on human rights, and the principle of anti-torture.
The North Sumatra Governor Edy Rahmayadi admitted that he was surprised by the existence of a human cage in the Langkat Regent’s house. He said he would further examine the findings because the cage could only be managed by law enforcement officers.