Following Wednesday’s fatal boat accident, the Agency for the Placement and Protection of Indonesian Migrant Workers Abroad (BNP2TKI) has called on the National Police to crack down on Indonesian people smugglers.

BNP2TKI principal secretary Hermono said Indonesian migrant workers killed in the incident were victims of a human trafficking syndicate dispatching people to work abroad.

To investigate further the incident, he said, the agency had set up a team to monitor the handling of the victims. “Enforcing the laws against human traffickers is very important to create a deterrent effect,” Hermono told The Jakarta Post on Saturday.

As reported earlier, a boat carrying 98 unregistered migrant workers and three crew members sank in waters near Tanjung Memban, Nongsa district, Batam, Riau Islands, on Wednesday. It departed from Selingi, Johor Bahru, Malaysia, to Batam and capsized after being hit by a large wave in Nongsa waters.

Hermono said 54 people had died in the incident, 12 of whom had been identified. The bodies of 11 victims had been returned to families across Indonesia.

“BNPTKI will cover all costs to return both dead victims and survivors to their hometowns,” he said.

Hermono could not provide details on compensation BNP2TKI would provide for the victims. “I have to first check our available budget. In the meantime, our priority is to return them to their hometowns,” said the former Indonesian ambassador to Malaysia.

According to BNP2TKI data, there are 1.3 million undocumented Indonesian migrant workers in Malaysia. By Fadli, 6 November 2016

The views and opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the ASEAN Trade Union Council.