Indonesia sends around half a million workers abroad each year, half to the Middle East. These migrant workers are overwhelmingly women from rural villages in towns who work as domestic workers. Around one in seven, according to government figures, returns reporting experiencing a problem abroad. 

Over the past decade the Indonesian government has sought actively to regulate recruitment and placement of workers overseas, and has developed processes and programs to enable migrant workers to access redress in Indonesia. During this time protection programs for migrant workers have expanded, including through Indonesian consulates, a national insurance program, and a specialized migrant worker agency. Further domestic law reform efforts are under way, and 2012 saw Indonesia’s historic ratification of the UN Migrant Worker Convention. At present, moratoriums are in place for key Middle East destinations including Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Syria, although workers are still travelling illegally.

The Migrant Worker A2J Project has been carrying out research and engaging with civil society, government and the private sector on access to justice for Indonesian migrant workers since January 2012. The program started with two roundtables of experts to discuss challenges for accessing justice and ideas for reform. The first roundtable was attended by members of civil society who carry out 'case-handling' of Indonesian cases, and looked at access to government services and insurance. The second roundtable on the same day included legal professionals and academics, and discussed the use of the courts.  A report of findings and recommendations of the study was published by the Open Society Foundations in October 2013.