Indonesia arrests 12 for human trafficking in illegal organ trade

JAKARTA (Reuters) – Indonesian authorities have arrested 12 people including a policeman and an immigration officer accused of trafficking 122 people to Cambodia to sell their kidneys, officials said on Thursday.

The suspects were charged with violating Indonesia’s human trafficking law and face a maximum 15 years in prison and a fine of up to 600 million rupiah ($40,040) if convicted.

They were accused of recruiting people from across Indonesia through social media and sending them to Cambodia for kidney transplant surgery, said Hengki Haryadi, director of the criminal investigation unit at Jakarta Police.

The victims were promised 135 million rupiah ($9,009) each.

“The victims agreed to sell their organs because they needed money. Most of them lost their jobs during the pandemic,” Hengki told reporters.

Indonesia is no stranger to human trafficking, mainly for labour and often through debt-based coercion.

In 2019, authorities arrested eight people over what was the country’s biggest-ever human trafficking bust, with about 1,200 victims taken abroad as domestic workers.

(Reporting by Ananda Teresia; Editing by Martin Petty)