A presidential task force is attempting to save more than 280 Indonesian migrant workers from death row in Malaysia and the Middle East, a top official said Thursday.
Jumhur Hidayat, the head of the National Agency for Labor Placement and Protection (BNP2TKI), said the task force, comprised of officials from the Manpower and Transmigration Ministry, BNP2TKI and Foreign Ministry, were working to seek clemency for seven migrant workers on death row and to appeal the death sentence of about 280 others.
Four of the seven workers are in Saudi Arabia, with one each in China, Singapore and Malaysia, Jumhur said at a hearing Thursday with the House of Representatives’ Commission IX overseeing labor
Jumhur said the government was optimistic the three Indonesians in China, Singapore and Malaysia would receive clemency, but remained unsure of the four in Saudi Arabia, adding that the Saudi legal system was different.
The Saudi government postponed the execution of the four Indonesians, which was to have taken place earlier this month, Jumhur said. No reason was specified.
The four Indonesian nationals on death row in Saudi Arabia are Siti Zaenab, Satinah binti Jumadi Ahmad, Aminah binti Hajibudi and Darmawati binti Taryani. The women were found guilty of charges ranging from “using black magic” to murder.
The 280 are part of 305 migrant workers on death row in Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, Jordan, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates.
Twenty-five of them have been saved from execution, Jumhur said, adding that most of these workers had been found guilty on charges of murder, drug smuggling and “using black magic”.
Jumhur said some migrant workers were found guilty of killing their employers to fend off rape attempts.
Apart from diplomatic and cultural lobbying, the task force has also hired lawyers to counsel the 280 migrants.
Jumhur added that the task force faced challenges in Saudi Arabia because they had to seek kishas (clemency) from victims’ families and pay diyats (blood money) as a preliminary requirement for Saudi courts to commute death sentences.
The task force is also lobbying victims’ relatives to lower the compensation from 4 million riyals (US$1,066,000) to 2 million riyals, Jumhur added.
During the hearing at the House, lawmakers voiced support for the task force’s attempt to save the migrant workers.
Charles Mesang from the Golkar Party, Surya Chandra Surapaty from the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) and Agung Mortri from the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) said the government, including the BNP2TKI, had to work harder to lobby the Saudi Arabian and Malaysian governments to give clemency.
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono formed the task force following public outcry at the beheading of Ruyati binti Satubi in Saudi Arabia last month.