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Indonesia: Govt should use human trafficking angle in Rita's defense

The government should use the human-trafficking angle in its defense strategy against the death penalty handed down by a Malaysian court to Rita Krisdianti, an Indonesian migrant worker, even though it would contradict Indonesia’s relentless commitment to the fight against illegal drugs, experts have said.

The Penang High Court recently sentenced Rita, 27, to death for her alleged involvement in drug smuggling. “There is a strong indication that Rita has been a victim of human trafficking, because there must be some people in Indonesia who put her in that situation and also arranged her trips and documents,” NGO Migrant Care director Anis Hidayah said on Monday.

“Victims of human trafficking should be assisted and protected as they could give some leads to reveal the mastermind behind the syndication.”

Hence, Anis called on the government to form a joint team to further investigate Rita’s entrapment in the drug-smuggling syndicate. She said the team could consist of people from the National Police, Manpower Ministry, Foreign Ministry and the Agency for the Placement and Protection of Indonesian Migrant Workers ( BNP2TKI ).

Meanwhile, Wahyudi Jafar, a researcher at the Institute for Policy Research and Advocacy (ELSAM), said that Indonesia’s firm stance against drug abuse would complicate the efforts to protect its citizens who had become implicated in drug cases overseas.

“It is going to be difficult [for Indonesia]. How can you ask other countries not to execute drug suspects if the same execution policy is still being implicated in your home country?” Wahyudi said.

Hence, there should be consolidation between Indonesia and Malaysia, including lawyers and advocacy groups in both countries, to revoke the death penalty against Rita, he said.

“The Foreign Ministry should actively work on it,” Wahyudi said. “Otherwise, Indonesia’s recent executions of drug suspects could be a boomerang that sacrifices migrant workers overseas.”

Rita was sentenced to death following her arrest on July 10, 2013, when Malaysian authorities at Penang’s Bayan Lepas Airport found over 4 kilograms of crystal methamphetamine in her bag.

She claimed she did not know about the meth, saying the bag belonged to a fellow Indonesian who had managed her travel arrangements from Hong Kong to Penang, via Bangkok and New Delhi.

Source: Jakarta Post, June 6, 2016

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