Police have saved eight children working for main supplier of Asia Pulp & Paper (APP) in Pulau Muda, Pelalawan district, and nabbed a contractor recruiting the children from North Sumatra province, media report said. Police of Asahan district have evacuated the children to their homes in Kisaran, North Sumatra, after working at APP’s PT Arara Abadi in Kerumutan forest block for four months when they were not paid completely by the employer, Kompas.com reported based on Kompas TV coverage (31 May 2013).

The children ranging from 16 to 18 years old were promised by the perpetrator, Ali Barda Harahap, to get high salary when they were recruited, said police commissioner Soni M. Nugroho, chief of operation division of Asahan Police Office. There were 10 children recruited previously, where they have to work in nursery division of PT Arara Abadi and have the daiy job from 7.00 AM to 7.00 PM, commissioner Nugroho said.

“They are promised to get big salary therefore they were allowed by their parents to go to Riau,” Nugroho said. The children were not paid by the employer and the Pelalawan Police will probe this case further, he added.

A spokesperson of PT Arara Abadi, Musherizal Yatim, denied that his company was responsible for such a crime. “It is responsibility of the contractor CV Tunas Nauli Basa as it’s a sourcing [system],” he told TV One last weekend.

Muslim Rasyid, coordinator of Jikalahari, urged PT Arara Abadi and APP to be responsible for these human trafficking and child slavery despite it is directly perpetrated by the contractor. “It is so shocking that public know human trafficking and child slavery also happens in pulp and paper industry. Human rights issue is also a crucial thing that APP should address by its Forest Conservation Policy as the company pledge publicly,” Rasyid told Eyes on the Forest News. He suspected that this kind of crime could be commonplace in acacia and palm oil plantations, therefore he urged the police to investigate it thoroughly including alleged involvement of APP’s main supplier PT Arara Abadi.

APP says on its FCP socialization sheet shared to NGOs in Pekanbaru in February that the company is implementing principles of “respect to human rights,” and “acknowledge and respect workers’ rights.”