News / Asia

Indonesia Imposes Moratorium on Sending Workers to Saudi Arabia

Irwan Setiawan (R) along with his sister Evi Kurniati, holds a picture of his mother, Ruyati Binti Sapubi.  The 54-year-old Indonesian maid was beheaded on Saturday, convicted of murdering her Saudi employer, June 19, 2011
Irwan Setiawan (R) along with his sister Evi Kurniati, holds a picture of his mother, Ruyati Binti Sapubi. The 54-year-old Indonesian maid was beheaded on Saturday, convicted of murdering her Saudi employer, June 19, 2011

Indonesia is defending its support for migrant workers days after an Indonesian maid was beheaded in Saudi Arabia for killing what she said was an abusive employer. Indonesian officials say that starting in August, they will stop sending workers to Saudi Arabia until officials there can guarantee their protection. Officials say the move is a sign they are committed to protecting their citizens, but migrant worker support groups are skeptical.

Saudi execution

The execution of Ruyati binti Sapubi, 54, has provoked a flurry of critical Indonesian media coverage of the government’s protection of migrant workers rights.  

This week, Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono spoke out against her death sentence and said the actions of the Saudi government broke with international norms because Riyadh did not notify Jakarta before it executed Sapubi.

Migrant workers groups have long said the government should do more to protect workers. Officials say the moratorium on migrant workers in August and other labor initiatives demonstrate that they are committed to addressing the issue.

“The first step we have taken in the past month was to ensure that we have a better monitoring for prospective employers," said Michael Tene, the spokesman for the Foreign Ministry. "Our embassy in Saudi Arabia has put in place stringent conditions before the embassy can endorse the request from prospective employers to employ Indonesian workers," Tene stated.

Abuse claims

Most of the 1.2 million Indonesians employed in Saudi Arabia are domestic workers. They often complain of being made to work long hours, having requests for return trips home denied, unpaid wages and in some cases grave physical abuse.

Some 23 Indonesian migrants are currently on death row in Saudi Arabia for crimes they allegedly committed while working in the country.

Although Sapubi pleaded guilty to killing her employer, she said it was because she was overworked, isolated and abused. Another Indonesian worker in the home has said Sapubi was repeatedly punched and kicked by her employer. Indonesian officials say Saudi courts should have taken her condition into consideration in granting her clemency.

Temporary moratorium

Indonesia has already implemented several temporary moratoriums on sending workers to Saudi Arabia. The latest came last November, when migrant worker Sumiati Salan Mustapa, 23, was hospitalized in Medina after her employer allegedly burned her with a hot iron and slashed her face with scissors.  

The head of support group Migrant Care, Anies Hidayah, is skeptical that the government’s August moratorium will be any different from the others.

She says this is one sign that the government acknowledges the case of Ruyati and many others. But she says she also deplores the fact that it will wait until August to implement it because by then there will not be any momentum. Hidayah says if the government were serious, it would implement the moratorium now.

Lawmaker initiative

A special team of Indonesian lawmakers has also come together to work on improving the mechanism for recruitment and placement of workers in the Gulf area. The team’s deputy chairperson, Eva Kusuma Sundari, says they need to improve vague, overly broad legislation that focuses more on placement for migrant workers than protection.

Critics of the government’s policy on sending workers abroad say they are more interested in the money they send home to their families and the benefits that placement agencies bring to the economy.

Indonesian migrant workers remit more than $7 billion each year, money that support groups say is one of the most effective forms of poverty alleviation. Sundari says it is another sector ripe for corruption.

Labor protection

Just weeks ago, both Saudi Arabia and Indonesia reversed their opposition to a legally binding convention on labor protections for domestic workers at an International Labor Organization summit in Geneva. It was the same summit at which President Yudhoyono took to the podium and spoke of his country’s strong efforts to defend its migrant workers.

The Saudi government has not issued a formal response to the planned August moratorium, but Tene says it is unlikely to harm relations with Indonesia. He says the Indonesian government will be able to absorb the workers who were planning to go to Saudi Arabia, while those already employed there will be able to stay until their contracts expire.

You May Like

Photogallery Pistorius Sentenced, Taken to Prison

Pistorius, convicted of culpable homicide in shooting death of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, will likely serve about 10 months of five-year sentence, before completing it under house arrest More

UN to Aid Central Africa in Polio Vaccinations

Synchronized vaccinations will be conducted after Cameroon reports a fifth case of the wild polio virus in its territory More

WHO: Ebola Vaccine May Be in Use by Jan.

WHO assistant director Dr. Marie Paule Kieny says clinical trials of Ebola vaccines are underway or planned in Europe, US and Africa More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid