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

    How Aleppo Rebels Plan to Withstand Assad's Siege

    Rebels in Aleppo are laying plans to withstand a siege by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces in likelihood the regime cuts a final main supply line running west of city

    Probe Targeting China's Statistic Head Sparks Concern

    Economists now asking what prompted government to launch an investigation only months after Wang Baoan had been vetted for crucial job

    HRW: Both Sides in Ukraine Conflict Targeted, Used Schools

    Rights group documents how both sides in Ukraine conflict carried out attacks on schools and used them for military purposes

    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.
    Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growthi
    X
    February 10, 2016 5:54 AM
    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growth

    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Civil Rights Pioneer Remembers Struggle for Voting Rights

    February is Black History Month in the United States. The annual, month-long national observance pays tribute to important people and events that shaped the history of African Americans. VOA's Chris Simkins reports how one man fought against discrimination to help millions of blacks obtain the right to vote
    Video

    Video Jordanian Theater Group Stages Anti-Terrorism Message

    The lure of the self-styled “Islamic State” has many parents worried about their children who may be susceptible to the organization’s online propaganda. Dozens of Muslim communities in the Middle East are fighting back -- giving young adults alternatives to violence. One group in Jordan is using dramatic expression a send a family message. Mideast Broadcasting Network correspondent Haider Al Abdali shared this report with VOA. It’s narrated by Bronwyn Benito
    Video

    Video Migrant Crisis Fuels Debate Over Britain’s Future in EU

    The migrant crisis in Europe is fueling the debate in Britain ahead of a referendum on staying in the European Union that may be held this year. Prime Minister David Cameron warns that leaving the EU could lead to thousands more migrants arriving in the country. Meanwhile, tension is rising in Calais, France, where thousands of migrants are living in squalid camps. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clowns

    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Families Flee Aleppo for Kurdish Regions in Syria

    Not all who flee the fighting in Aleppo are trying to cross the border into Turkey. A VOA reporter caught up with several families heading for Kurdish-held areas of northern Syria.
    Video

    Video Rocky Year Ahead for Nigeria Amid Oil Price Crash

    The global fall in the price of oil has rattled the economies of many petroleum exporters, and Africa’s oil king Nigeria is no exception. As Chris Stein reports from Lagos, analysts are predicting a rough year ahead for the continent’s top producer of crude.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.