Tue, 11 Apr 2000

More Indonesian workers face death sentences abroad

JAKARTA (JP): Minister of Manpower Bomer Pasaribu revealed on Monday that besides Kartini binti Karim, nine other Indonesian workers were facing a death sentence overseas for murder.

Ikaesih binti Dul Holid from Cirebon, West Java, is the latest Indonesian migrant worker to be charged with murder. She was accused of throwing her employer's baby from the third floor of an apartment in Singapore last week.

"The trial is still going on," he said in an informal meeting with reporters.

The minister said apart from Kartini of Karawang, West Java, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) court had sentenced Sriningsih from Brebes, Central Java, to be stoned to death for killing her Sri Lankan fellow worker.

Unlike Kartini, who is appealing to the Fujairah Higher Court, Sriningsih is waiting for legal assistance in order to evade the death penalty.

Bomer said the Indonesian Embassy, in cooperation with labor supply companies which sent the two workers, have recruited local lawyers who will act on their behalf.

He said he was optimistic they would be freed from the charges following the lawyers' negotiations with UAE authorities and the victims' relatives.

In Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, Siti Zaenab binti Duhri Rupa from Bangkalan, East Java, is facing a death sentence for killing her employer's wife. The local district court is expected to make its verdict next week.

Bomer said the trial of an Indonesian couple from West Nusa Tenggara, charged with murdering their employer, is also underway in Saudi Arabia.

Four more workers who illegally immigrated to Malaysia are also facing death sentences for murder, Bomer said without elaborating.

He conceded it was difficult and complicated to provide legal protection for troubled workers in the Middle East because Indonesian citizens employed as domestic helpers are not protected by labor laws adopted by the countries.

"Indonesians who are employed as domestic helpers are not treated as workers but part of their employers' family," he said.

He pledged to review the legal procedure of labor export in a move to curb troubles which commonly involve Indonesian workers overseas.

The minister said the government would immediately sign bilateral agreements with Singapore, Malaysia and Middle Eastern countries to provide legal protection for Indonesian workers employed in those countries.

He said Indonesia, along with Malaysia and Saudi Arabia, would propose a clause to strengthen the existing bilateral agreements on legal protection for Indonesians in the two countries.

Bomer also said the Ministry of Manpower was also making efforts to bring home the body of an Indonesian worker who died four months ago in Taiwan after suffering a serious injury.

He said the ministry had revoked the license of the labor export company which supplied the worker to that country.

The case was revealed after the victim's family lodged a complaint on the case to the ministry last week. (rms)