Tue, 19 Dec 2000

670 deported for violating immigration rules

JAKARTA (JP): A total of 670 foreigners have been deported from Indonesia for violating immigration regulations up until November this year, an official said on Monday.

Spokesman for the Directorate-general of Immigration Mursanuddin A. Ghani said that those who had been deported mostly came from Middle East countries such as Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan.

"Most of the foreigners had overstayed, violated their entry permits or their refugee status," Ghani told The Jakarta Post.

He said the number of deported foreigners this year is 12.5 percent higher than the same period last year, when 596 foreigners were deported.

The immigration office noted an increasing trend of foreigners being deported in the past few years, citing that 440 foreigners were deported in 1997, 336 in 1998, 596 in 1999 and 670 this year.

"The increasing trend of foreigners being deported is probably a result of the government's policy of being more open to tourists and granting more facilities to foreigners intending to visit the country," Muhammad Indra, Director of Immigration Supervision and Operation, said in a statement earlier this month.

The facilities offered to the visiting foreigners, he said, were in the form of loose regulations for tourists and prospective investors.

"However, such facilities have resulted in more violations, which had not been anticipated," Indra said.

He said that the increasing trend also was connected with the fact Indonesia has been used as a transit point for those wishing to travel to a third country, particularly Australia.

The immigration office has noted a trend in which foreigners would depart for Australia using small vessels from Indonesian harbors, such as Tanjung Balai Asahan and Pematang Siantar in North Sumatra, Pelabuhan Ratu in West Java, Cilacap in Central Java, Kupang and Maumere in East Nusa Tenggara and Merauke in Irian Jaya.

Indra added that these illegal immigrants often forged Indonesian immigration documents before leaving the country.

Ghani earlier told The Jakarta Post that as of November this year Indonesia has been housing 883 illegal immigrants who entered the country without proper documents.

He said the 883 immigrants, mostly from Middle East countries, were being kept at Immigration quarantine facilities nationwide.

"386 out of the 883 immigrants have just received refugee status issued by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)," he said.

The spokesman said 357 of the 386 immigrants were from Iraq, 16 from Afghanistan, five from Pakistan, four from Iran, two from Saudi Arabia, one from Liberia and one from Bahrain.

The UNHCR is now processing requests from 368 illegal immigrants seeking refugee status, while the status of the remaining 129 illegal immigrants remains unclear. (01)