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

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Indonesian citizen spared death penalty in Saudi Arabia

An Indonesian national previously sentenced to death in Saudi Arabia for allegedly practising witchcraft is due to fly home.

Migrant worker Rika Mustikawati of Sukaresmi, Bogor, West Java, was sentenced to death on May 15, 2012, by the district court of Bisha, Saudi Arabia, for practicing witchcraft on her employer's wife, identified as Salma.

In November 2012, efforts by the legal team from the Indonesian Consulate-General in Jeddah succeeded, the Saudi Appeals Court deciding to annul the district court's death sentence and demanding Rika's case be retried with a new judge.

The Indonesian Foreign Ministry explained that the new trial resulted in Rika's sentence being reduced from death to a three-year prison sentence. Indonesia continued to appeal in an attempt to have Rika declared innocent, but the Appeals Court upheld the sentence in September 2014.

According to the coordinator of the Jeddah consulate general, Dicky Yunus, it was after the appeals that the consulate legal team began to secure her release.

However, Rika's departure was reportedly halted by Saudi immigration authorities over administrative issues.

"Rika was due to fly home on July 28, 2015. However, she is still currently being held by Saudi immigration officials. The consulate will do all it can to make sure she is sent home," Dicky said in a statement on Monday.

No exact date of departure for Rika has been decided as yet.

Rika's release follows appeals including a letter from the Indonesian Ambassador to Saudi Arabia to the Saudi king.

Dicky added that momentum gained from Foreign Minister Retno LP Marsudi's talks with the Saudi foreign minister and king in May could contribute to swiftly settling all legal cases involving Indonesian nationals in Saudi Arabia.

"Every party has contributed to the successes, be it the Indonesian government, Baitul Muslimin (BMI) activists and even the Saudi authorities," he said. Rika had reportedly been working legally in Saudi Arabia since 2009.

More than 200 Indonesia migrant workers overseas still face the possibility of execution, for the most part in Saudi Arabia.

Excluding Rika, a total of 34 condemned Indonesian nationals have been reprieved so far: 10 in Saudi Arabia, 12 in Malaysia, 10 in China and 1 each in Brunei and Thailand.

This year has also seen the executions of Indonesian nationals by Saudi Arabia, including migrant workers Siti Zainab and Karni Medi Tarsim in April.

Migrant Care, an NGO advocating for the rights of Indonesian workers abroad, has called on President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo to take immediate action to rescue Indonesian migrant workers on death row abroad following the executions of Siti and Karni. "It is painful, agonizing for us, the Indonesia people. It is desperately brutal of the Saudi government to execute 2 Indonesian migrant workers, 1 after the other," said Migrant Care executive director Anis Hidayah.

Jokowi has indicated that he plans to place on ban on workers seeking employment abroad, but the government has struggled to act against the rampant illegal agencies that recruit workers to send abroad.

"The problem often starts at the very beginning, namely in worker-recruitment processes that do not follow required procedures. These include document examinations, competency tests, health checks and training before departure," said the deputy head of the Agency for the Placement and Protection of Indonesian Migrant Workers (BNP2TKI), Agustin Subiantoro.

Source: Jakarta Post, August 4, 2015

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