| June 20, 2011
The government says it will issue a formal protest over the execution in Saudi Arabia of an Indonesian migrant worker convicted of murder, arguing that it had been in the middle of seeking clemency for her when she was executed.
Ruyati Binti Sapubi, a migrant worker from Bekasi, was beheaded by sword in the western province of Mecca on Saturday for murdering her female employer, stabbing her repeatedly in the head and neck with a kitchen knife in January 2010.
Didi Wahjudi, a representative from the Indonesian consulate in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, said neither the consulate nor the embassy in Riyadh had been informed about the execution.
He said the consulate only learned of it through media reports as well as from members of the Indonesian community in the country.
“We were actually in the middle of seeking clemency on behalf of the victim’s family and were conducting other non-litigation efforts,” he said.
“We are not happy that the execution happened without us being notified.”
Despite two diplomatic notes asking for consular access to Ruyati, Didi said Saudi authorities kept the embassy out of the loop during her trial.
He said Indonesian officials had also tried to meet with her when she appeared in court.
However, he said Ruyati had pleaded guilty to the murder and such crimes were punishable by death in Saudi Arabia.
Meanwhile, the government on Sunday said it condemned the execution and would formally censure Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to Indonesia, saying the Saudi authorities had not allowed it to provide Ruyati with proper consular assistance.
“Without disregard to the governing laws in Saudi Arabia, the Indonesian government condemns the execution that was carried out without upholding the international practice in relation to providing consular protection,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Michael Tene said.
A ministry press release said the Saudi Arabian ambassador would be officially summoned so the government could present its case, while the Indonesian ambassador in Riyadh would be recalled to Jakarta “for consultation.”
Ruyati’s daughter, identified only as Evi, told radio station El Shinta that her mother’s placement agency had falsified her age, cutting it from 54 to 35, so she could qualify to work abroad.
Separately, Hikmahanto Juwana, an international law expert at University of Indonesia, called for a halt to migrant workers being sent to Saudi Arabia.
“The withdrawal is necessary to voice the Indonesian government’s objection to the beheading, and the government is entitled to demand an explanation from the Saudi authorities about why they failed to inform the embassy there,” he told the Jakarta Globe.
He said more pressure should also be exerted on Riyadh to take firm legal action against abusive Saudi employers. “Migrant workers do not go abroad to commit crimes,” he said. “If they do commit a crime, it must be because of the violent treatment they get from their employers.”
Tjahjo Kumolo, from the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), called for the ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Gatot Abdullah Mansyur, to be fired over the mishandling of the case.
“The Foreign Ministry said they did not know about Ruyati’s case,” he said. “So what is the ambassador doing there? The ambassador must be dismissed.”
(x the JG)