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Save Tuti Tursilawati and other Indonesian migrant workers from the death penalty in Saudi Arabia

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, through his spokesperson Rupert Colville, issued a position statement in Geneva today, (October 12, 2011) concerning the death penalty in Saudi Arabia, after eight Bangladeshi migrant workers were executed (beheaded) there simultaneously. In 2011, at least 58 people, of whom 20 were migrant workers, including Ruyati, were executed in the kingdom. This is an irony considering that 140 countries out of the United Nations' 193 members, have abolished the death penalty from their criminal system, or have at least introduced a moratorium on it. To that end, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights requested Saudi Arabia to respect international human rights standards by abolishing the death penalty or establishing a moratorium.

The call of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights should be taken seriously by the governments of both Saudi Arabia and Indonesia. Currently, at least 26 Indonesian migrant workers are facing the death penalty in Saudi Arabia, five of whom have received a death sentence--Tuti Tursilawati, Sutinah, Siti Zaenab, Aminah and Darmawati. The Indonesian government should take the call of the High Commissioner as momentum for its own efforts to ensure the release of its citizens facing execution, especially Tuti Tursilawati, who will allegedly be executed after Eid al-Adha.

Tuti Tursilawati (27 years) is a domestic migrant worker from Cikeusik, Sukahaji, Majalengka regency of West Java, dispatched to Saudi Arabia by PT. Arunda Bayu on 5 September 2009, to work for Suud Malhaq Alutaibi, in Thaif. According to the information received by her family, Tuti's employer often tried to commit immoral acts against her (Tuti). On 11 May 2010, Tuti was forced to hit her employer with wood in self defence, resulting in her employer’s death. After the incident, Tuti ran away and was arrested by local police and detained at Thaif prison until now.

Tuti's judicial process has recently been completed with the sentencing of the death penalty. It is reported that the family of Tuti's employer has requested the court to execute the death penalty (qisas) after the end of the Hajj.

The death penalty verdict is a great injustice to Tuti and must be rejected. Not only because she was a victim of violence and protecting herself, but also because the right to life of each person is a fundamental right that cannot be reduced under any circumstances.

The right to life for everyone is guaranteed in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which states that the right to life is a non-derogable right. Indonesia as a country having ratified the ICCPR should adopt this principle by terminating the practice of death penalty in its criminal system. Such a termination will strengthen Indonesia’s political and diplomatic position in defending Indonesian migrant workers who face the death penalty.

Since the execution of Ruyati, the Indonesian government has established a task force to defend Indonesian migrant workers threatened with the death penalty, but until now that institution has not shown any significant results. In fact, since it was formed in July 2011, the task force has not made its work report public.

Based on these facts, the Civil Society Alliance against Death Penalty:

1.    Urges the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to not execute Tuti Tursilawati and 26 other migrant workers threatened with execution;

2.    Urges President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to undertake high level diplomacy with the King of Saudi Arabia to acquit Tuti Tursilawati from the death penalty;

3.    Urges the governments of Saudi Arabia and Indonesia to immediately abolish or at least conduct a death penalty moratorium in respect of human rights;

4.    Urges for a performance audit and work report of the task force to defend Indonesian migrant workers threatened with the death penalty, which has not been done until now;

5.    And posits that President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, the minister of foreign affairs, the minister of manpower and transmigration and the head of BNP2TKI (The National Agency for Placement and Protection of Indonesian Migrant Workers) should retire from their position if they cannot save Tuti and other citizens from the threat of death penalty, considering this is a constitutional mandate.

Jakarta, 14 October 2011

Migrant Care, Kontras, Impartial, ELSAM, KWI , DEMOS, ICW, YAPPIKA, Journal of Women, INFID, Ship Women, BPI, Sapa Indonesia, ANBTI, KPI, Society of UNI Workers, JATAM, FIVE Indonesia, Wahid Institute, LSPP, Foker, Women Mahardhika, Ourvoice, JALA PRT, KBRD, SARI, INDIPT, LKTS, Syarikat Indonesia, ICDHRE, IPMIK, PAKUBUMI, Enough KNTP, IHI, AliansiSumut Unite, Indonesia Aids Coalition, Papua Axe, Praxis, APIK Federation, Indies, Yakkum, PRP , Father Benny Sustyo, Usman Hamid, Rumadi, Maman Imanuhaq, Zuhairi Misrawi, Olin Monteiro.

Contact: Haris Azhar ( 08153302342), Anis Hidayah (081578722874), Wahyu Susilo (08129307964), Indriastuti (081380305728)