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RIYADH: Twenty-five Indonesian maids are on death row in Saudi Arabia and 22 others have been pardoned and sent home, local media reported yesterday, adding that Jakarta will send a delegation for talks on the issue.
“Twenty-two death row Indonesian inmates in the Kingdom have been exonerated and repatriated back to Indonesia, while 25 maids are still facing death sentences in Saudi Arabia for various offences,” the English-language daily Arab News reported.
“Six housemaids are on death row in Riyadh province alone, whereas about 19 female workers have been handed death sentences in the Western region,” it quoted the Indonesian embassy’s spokesman, Hendrar Pramutyo, as saying.
Jakarta will send “a 14-member presidential task force to the Kingdom on April 7 to talk to Saudi officials and to intensify efforts in cooperation with its embassy to rescue the maids,” the daily quoted Pramutyo as saying.
“We have also asked permission from the host government to allow our presidential task force delegation to visit Saudi jails” where a total of 1,700 Indonesians are serving prison terms, he added.
Indonesian anger over the treatment of its manual labourers in the oil-rich Gulf monarchy has grown since last year, after a spate of cases of abuse and killings.
Last June, Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono denounced the beheading in Saudi Arabia of an Indonesian maid and accused Riyadh of breaking the “norms and manners” of international relations.
Ruyati binti Sapubi, 54, was beheaded on June 18, 2011, after she was convicted of killing her Saudi employer, prompting Indonesia to recall its ambassador in Saudi Arabia for “consultations.”
Indonesia also announced a moratorium on sending migrant workers to Saudi Arabia, where hundreds of thousands of Indonesians toil as maids and labourers. Days later, the kingdom announced that it would stop granting work permits to domestic workers from Indonesia and the Philippines, after hiring conditions were imposed by those two countries. Rights groups say millions of mostly Asian domestic workers are regularly exposed to physical and financial abuse in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states because of poor or non-existent labour laws.AFP