Friday, February 09, 2007

RI embassies rather slow in protecting Indonesian migrant workers

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Indonesian embassies in four foreign countries have been rather slow in helping a number of Inonesian migrant workers who are facing the death sentence in those countries, a legislator said.

Suripto, a member of the House of Representatives (DPR) Commission I, was referring to the Indonesian embassies in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Malaysia and Singapore where a total of 19 Indonesian migrant workers are charged with committing acts carrying the death sentence.

"Indonesian embassies are supposed to protect Indonesian nationals who are in trouble abroad but in reality they are rather slow in doing something to meet this expectation," Suripto said.

He said the largeness of the numbers of Indonesian migrant workers abroad was no valid excuse for the embassies` inablity to monitor the workers` activities and protect them.

Suripto said the Indonesian embassy in Malaysia had been too slow in providing assistance to Suhaidi bin Asnawi, a migrant worker from Lombok Barat district in West Nusa Tenggara, who was facing execution by hanging.

He said Suhaidi bin Asnawi had been in trouble with the law in Malaysia since 2001 but the Indonesian embassy in Kuala Lumpur started to assist him only in early 2005.

Because of the Indonesian embassy`s lack of attention, Suhaidi bin Asnawi was to appear in court for the last time in March when sentence would be passed on him.

Suripto said if the Indoneisan embassy had all along lobbied Malaysian authorities over Asnawi`s case, the latter would have had a chance to get a lighter sentence.

"As fellow ASEAN member countries, it would not have been too difficult to lobby the Malaysian government for a more lenient sentence for Asnawi," Suripto said, adding that the Indonesian embassy`s approach through non-government organizations (NGOs in Malaysia was less effective.

One thing Suripto said important enough to protect Indonesian migrant workers abroad was that the embassies should immediately find noted lawyers for those who were in legal problem and free them from the death penalty.

"The embassies should find noted lawyers in the country to protect migrant workers," Suripto said.(*)



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