"One is absolutely sickened, not by the crimes that the wicked have committed, but by the punishments that the good have inflicted." - Oscar Wilde

Monday, April 20, 2015

279 Indonesian migrant workers face death penalty abroad

Indonesia vs Saudi Arabia: The Maid Issue. Read more.
As many as 279 Indonesia migrant workers overseas face the possibility of execution, 36 of whom are in Saudi Arabia, an official has said.

“The government, through the Indonesian embassies in those countries, is striving to free them [death row convicts] from the death sentences by, among others efforts, conducting informal approaches to families of the victims,” Manpower Ministry migrant worker placement director Guntur Witjaksono said.

He was speaking during a coordination meeting concerning Indonesian migrant worker placement and protection in Semarang, Central Java, on Friday.

Guntur said informal lobbying of families of victims was a key means of securing pardon for Indonesian migrant workers awaiting execution.

He said some of the migrant workers being facing the death penalty had been convicted of murder. According to the ministry's official data, six out of 36 Indonesian migrant workers on death row overseas are from Central Java.

The head of the domestic and foreign worker placement division at the Central Java Manpower, Transmigration and Population agency, Ahmad Aziz, said in the beginning of 2015, eight migrant workers from Central Java were facing the possibility of execution.

“There are now only six workers [on death row], as Karni from Brebes has been executed, while Satinah from Semarang escaped execution after the Indonesian government paid diyat [blood money] to the victim's family,” said Aziz.

The deputy head of the Agency for the Placement and Protection of Indonesian Migrant Workers (BNP2TKI), Agustin Subiantoro, said most Indonesian workers facing legal problems overseas were working in informal sectors, particularly as domestic helpers.

“The problem often starts at the very beginning, namely in worker-recruitment processes that do not follow required procedures. These include document-completeness examinations, competency tests, health check-ups and training before departures,” he said.

Agustin added that by completing all procedures, there should have been a guarantee that Indonesian migrant workers dispatched were only those who had the competence or skills needed by their employers in the destination countries.

To better protect Indonesian workers from similar legal problems in the future, he said the government would establish stricter recruitment protocol, stressing worker competence such as housework skills, legal knowledge and language, as well as the ability to adapt to the culture of the people in their destination countries.

Karni binti Medi Tarsim was executed on Thursday. In 2013, a Saudi Arabian court sentenced Karni to death for killing her employer’s four-year-old child in 2012. Karni’s execution came just two days after another Indonesian migrant worker, Siti Zaenab, was beheaded in Medina on Tuesday. In 2001, a local court sentenced Siti to death for murdering her female employer in 1999.

Source: The Jakarta Post, April 19, 2015

Jokowi’s execution plan won’t jeopardize migrants

The Foreign Ministry has defended President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's policy on the execution of foreign nationals convicted of drug offences, saying that it would not jeopardize the fight to save hundreds of Indonesian migrant workers on death row overseas.

The ministry's director for the protection of Indonesian citizens, Lalu Muhammad Iqbal, said on Saturday the ministry had not found any indication that Jokowi's plan had compromised diplomatic efforts to stop the execution of migrant workers overseas.

"Nothing has been affected. We executed foreign nationals in Indonesia before and were able to save 238 of our people [from executions overseas between 2011 and 2015] and none of the countries have complained [about it]," he told reporters on Saturday.

Currently, there are at least 227 Indonesian nationals hoping to be pardoned.

The majority of them, 168, are in Malaysia, and 60 per cent of them are drug convicts, data from the ministry shows.

Iqbal said no country had attempted to block Indonesia's attempts to save its citizens from execution because the country's efforts were conducted through legal means.

"So if we have exhausted all legal means, such as providing lawyers and legal counseling, but still to no avail, we will move toward diplomatic protection. That's where the President comes in," Iqbal said.

As of today, the only cases that have prompted the Indonesian government to deploy diplomatic means involved Siti Zaenab and Karni binti Medi Tarsim, two Indonesian migrant workers who earlier this week were executed in Saudi Arabia.

According to Iqbal, both President Jokowi and his predecessor, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, had earlier sent letters to the Saudi King regarding both cases, leading to the postponement of the executions until 2015.

"But there was a limit to what the king could do to postpone the process. Therefore, when one of them was executed, we already expected the other one to be executed within the next two days," he said.

The government had only been able to make predictions as to when the Saudi Arabian government would carry out both executions because it had not given prior notice to either the family members or Indonesian government.

Iqbal said Saudi Arabian law did not obligate the government to give notification prior to executing the death row convicts.

He said there was little that the Indonesian government could do once they had exhausted all diplomatic means.

"When the Australian prime minister [Tony Abbott] protested us [for planning to execute two of its citizens], he could not do much about it because it is our law after all. That's what happened to us as well. We could not protest Saudi Arabian law," Iqbal said.

Human rights watchdog Imparsial programme director Al Araf said that the execution of the two Indonesian migrant workers should serve as a lesson for the Indonesian government to honour the lives of foreigners facing the death penalty in Indonesia.

"Domestic politics have to be consistent with foreign politics. If in our diplomacy we protect our people who are threatened by the death penalty, then domestically, Jokowi has to abolish the death penalty," he said.

At least 467 Indonesians have died by capital punishment abroad, including 28 in Saudi Arabia, 168 in Malaysia, 15 in China, four in Singapore, one in Vietnam and two in Laos.

Source: Jakarta Post/Asia News Network, Hans Nicholas Jong, Apr 19, 2015

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