Indonesia has filed an official protest with Saudi Arabia after the kingdom executed an Indonesian domestic worker without notifying her family or consular staff.
Tuti Tursilawati was executed on Monday in the city of Taif, Indonesia’s foreign ministry said, seven years after she was sentenced to death for killing her employer in an act she claimed was self-defence from sexual abuse.
President Joko Widodo criticised the decision on Wednesday, saying the government has officially protested to Riyadh and demanded better protection of Indonesian workers in the country.
Lalu Muhammad Iqbal, director at the foreign ministry’s Indonesian citizens protection department, told reporters on Tuesday the move was “regrettable”.
“The execution of Tuti Tursilawati was done without notification to our representatives, either in Riyadh or Jeddah,” he said at a news conference.
Tursilawati claimed she was acting in self-defence when she killed her employer in 2010 after he tried to rape her.
Migrant Care, an NGO advocating for the rights of Indonesian workers abroad, condemned the execution and urged the government to take serious diplomatic steps.
It said Indonesia should reverse its recent decision to allow a limited number of Indonesian migrant workers to Saudi Arabia despite a 2015 moratorium banning new domestic workers from entering 21 Middle Eastern countries.
Punishable by death
Indonesia introduced the ban following the execution of two other Indonesian maids by Saudi Arabia the same year.
Drug trafficking, rape, murder, apostasy and armed robbery are all punishable by death under Saudi Arabia’s strict version of Islamic law.
As well as the Middle East, Indonesia also sends domestic workers to many parts of Asia, including Singapore, Hong Kong and Malaysia, and has often complained about the treatment of its workers abroad.
GCC countries have come under fire over its controversial Kafala system of sponsorship for migrant workers, which is used to varying extents in different countries across the region.
It restricts most workers from moving to a new job before their contracts end unless they obtain their employer’s consent, trapping many workers in abusive situations.
International rights and labour groups have called for comprehensive laws to protect migrant labourers and reforming the kafala system.
And according to Human Rights Watch several Gulf countries have slowly improved the labour protections for migrant domestic workers.