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Indonesia protests Saudi Arabia execution of migrant worker

/ 05:34 PM October 31, 2018

Don’t do it: Human rights activists stage a rally in Kota Tua, West Jakarta, to commemorate World Day against the Death Penalty. (The Jakarta Post/Vellen Augustine)

JAKARTA — The government of Indonesia has aired its “deep concerns” about the execution of Indonesian migrant worker Tuti Tursilawati, which was carried out on Monday without the prior knowledge of her family or Indonesian officials.

Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi immediately called her Saudi counterpart Adel bin Ahmed Al Jubeir to express her disapproval on the execution, of which she was notified after it took place on Monday.

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“Tuti’s execution was carried out without [prior notification]. I also summoned the Saudi ambassador [Usamah Muhammad Al Syuaiby] in Jakarta to meet me in Bali,” she told reporters on Tuesday on the sidelines of the Our Ocean Conference in Bali, according to a distributed recording of her interview.

Separately in Jakarta, the ministry’s director for overseas citizen protection, Lalu Muhammad Iqbal, said Tuti’s family had accepted her passing, after it was revealed that he had personally delivered the news of her execution in a visit to her hometown in Majalengka, West Java.

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Iqbal said they were surprised because almost two weeks ago on Oct. 19, Tuti was allowed to talk to her mother through a video call to say she was healthy and unworried about her execution.

Tuti was charged with the premeditated murder of her employer’s father, who she beat to death with a stick. According to Saudi criminal law, the act is punishable by had ghillah (absolute death).

In contrast to previous reports, Tuti did not commit the murder in self-defense against attempted rape. “It is true that Tuti had been harassed, but not when she committed the murder,” Iqbal said.

After the incident, Tuti ran away from her employer but was raped by nine Saudi men before the police took her into custody. All of her rapists were processed separately.

Observors say Indonesia is unable to criticize other countries that uphold capital punishment without appearing hypocritical. Under President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo, Indonesia has executed 18 death row inmates convicted of drug-related offenses, including foreigners, in three batches since 2015.

Instead, Jakarta complained about the lack of consular notification in cases that fall under Saudi authority.

International law expert Hikmahanto Juwana from the University of Indonesia said Riyadh had “violated the norms of international relations” by not informing Indonesia about the execution.

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In an attempt to prevent such disputes from arising, Indonesia pursued last week a mandatory consular notification agreement with Saudi Arabia, which Iqbal said had been “received positively” by the Saudi delegation.

The Saudi Embassy in Jakarta was unable to provide immediate comment.

Meanwhile, the Migrant CARE advocacy group has called on the Manpower Ministry to scrap a recent agreement with its Saudi counterpart to send Indonesian migrant workers to the kingdom.

The One Channel System was a scheme agreed upon by the two countries’ manpower ministers in mid-October, which allows for the placement of a limited number of migrant workers in Saudi Arabia.

However, Migrant CARE founder Anis Hidayah said the government was violating the 2017 law on the protection of migrant workers by rushing into a deal that bypasses a 2015 ban on sending migrant domestic workers to the Middle East. “The law prohibits private organizations from recruiting migrant workers but this project allows it.”

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TAGS: Asia, Indonesia, Labor, Saudi Arabia
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