Jakarta. Indonesia has sent a diplomatic note to Malaysia calling for it to take immediate steps to prevent violence against Indonesian migrant workers and to ensure that their rights are upheld.
The call follows the alleged murder of 28-year-old Indonesian domestic worker Adelina Jemira Sau in Penang, Foreign Ministry spokesman Arrmanatha Nasir said during a press briefing in Jakarta on Thursday (22/02).
"The Indonesian government has delivered a diplomatic note to the Malaysian government in which we condemn the incident that befell Adelina, and demand firm and serious handling of the judicial process against the perpetrators," Arrmanatha said.
Adelina died at Bukit Mertajam Hospital in Penang on Feb. 11, after she was rescued from her employer's home where she had reportedly suffered abuse and was forced to sleep outdoors with the family's pet dog for almost two months.
A postmortem examination revealed that she died from multiple organ failure and anemia. The Indonesian government handed Adelina's body to her family in East Nusa Tenggara on Feb. 17.
She had been working in Malaysia without a visa for about two years before her death.
On Wednesday, prosecutors charged a 60-year-old woman – the mother-in-law of Adelina's employer – with murder under Section 302 of the Malaysian Penal Code, which carries a mandatory death sentence.
The employer has also been charged for illegally employing a foreign worker.
"We have asked the Malaysian government to take immediate steps, including through a bilateral discussion, to prevent such things from happening again, and to step up the protection of Indonesian migrant workers and ensure that their rights are upheld," Arrmanatha said.
Indonesia also called on Malaysia to address the matter of those still illegally employing Indonesian migrant workers.
"We will continue to put pressure on the Malaysian government, monitor and work with the local authorities to make sure that the judicial process is conducted properly and that the perpetrators are sentenced accordingly," Arrmanatha said.
Adelina's alleged murder has raised concerns over the protection of Indonesian migrant workers and opened room for the possibility of a moratorium on sending migrant workers, especially domestic helpers, to Malaysia.
According to Migrant Care, Adelina's alleged murder was the ninth in a streak of deaths of Indonesian migrant workers from East Nusa Tenggara in 2018 alone.
"This incident should create momentum for Indonesia and Malaysia to conclude the memorandum of understanding on the protection of domestic helpers … it is also a test of how serious both countries are in implementing the Asean Consensus on Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Migrant Workers," Migrant Care said in a statement, referring to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean).
The bilateral labor migration agreement between the two countries, aimed at preventing the deaths of migrant workers such as Adelina, lapsed in May 2016.