The Law and Human Rights Ministry will remove Sri Lanka and Bangladesh from Indonesia’s immigration red list later in May, four months later than initially planned, a ministry official says.
“Sri Lanka and Bangladesh will be taken off [from the red list] soon,” Budi Satria Wibawa, the ministry’s travel documents chief, said on Monday.
Budi said that the economy and security of both countries had improved, allowing the government to relax the visa arrangements for Sri Lankan and Bangladeshi citizens entering Indonesia.
“It is hoped that Bangladeshi citizens will bring benefits to Indonesia, rather than come here without a clear purpose” said Budi.
The ministry had planned to remove the two countries from the red list at the beginning of the year, with Afghanistan and Pakistan to follow suit later in the year.
Budi did not respond when asked why the plan had been postponed, or if the plan for Afghanistan and Pakistan would still go ahead.
Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan are among 13 countries on the government’s immigration red list, in addition to Guinea, Israel, Iraq, North Korea, Cameroon, Liberia, Niger, Nigeria and Somalia.
There are fears that the number of illegal immigrants entering Indonesia for resettlement, or en route to Australia will increase with the removal of countries from the red list
There are currently around 3,660 foreign refugees in Indonesia, around 2,008 of which are from Afghanistan.
The Immigration Office has named Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Iran, Iraq, Somalia, Myanmar and Pakistan as countries which are the main source of refugees trying to reach Australia.
Only 10 percent of Sri Lankans entering Indonesia legally exited the country, while the remaining 90 percent could not be located, according to the Office.
The University of Indonesia international law scholar Hikmahanto Juwana said that the government should scrap the plan because “if something happens, Indonesia will bear responsibility. Money will be needed to return them to their countries.”
He also said that the decision would upset Indonesia’s neighboring country, Australia. (The Jakarta Post)