Alarm raised over increasing number of child kidnappings

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 13 July, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 13 July, 2010, 12:00am

Concern is growing in Indonesia over the rising number of child kidnappings, with the majority of those taken being girls under the age of 12.

Arist Merdeka Sirait, the secretary-general of the National Commission for Child Protection, a state institution, said the number of abductions was 'extremely alarming'.

There had been 67 cases reported to the commission from January to May this year, he said.

There were 102 cases recorded last year, while in 2008 there were 72 cases. The commission, the only organisation that is monitoring the trend, said that in 2007 there were only 37 reported cases.

Most recorded abductions happened in Jakarta and its satellite towns, Bogor, Depok, Tangerang and Bekasi. Others have been recorded in cities on the island of Java, such as Surabaya, Bandung and Semarang.

Only 27 of the children abducted this year have been rescued, four of whom were found dead.

'This is likely to be only the tip of the iceberg, since people in the villages of the outer areas are unlikely to report cases to the authorities or to us,' Arist said.

Kidnappings were generally motivated by ransom reasons, he said, but there was a strong possibility that national and international crime syndicates were also involved. It is feared that some of the children may have been sold for illegal adoption, child labour, or into prostitution, both in Indonesia and abroad.

'This is because the parents of many of the children were never contacted for ransom. The children just disappeared,' he said.

The International Labour Organisation estimates that 100,000 Indonesian children are trafficked overseas and domestically every year, with 40,000 to 70,000 of them becoming victims of sexual exploitation.

Local and international organisations have claimed that the continued failure of the government to ratify laws and treaties aimed at preventing human trafficking is exacerbating the situation.

According to a US Department of State's report on human trafficking, Jakarta does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking, although it is making significant efforts to do so.

A Western intelligence officer operating in Indonesia said 'copycat offenders are probably responsible for the rising rate of abductions'.

Local police have also warned that the kidnapper is often aided by people who know the family.

According to records of the resolved cases, support often comes from a house maid, neighbour, relative, or friend of the victim's parents. All of the recorded abductions so far have been of Indonesian children, but Concord Review, a risk-assessment firm based in Jakarta, said that children of expatriates could soon be the next target.

Tip of the iceberg

Most abductions happened in Jakarta and its satellite towns

Only 27 of the children abducted this year have been rescued, out of the reported cases totalling: 67