Indonesian Lawmakers Urge Protection for Migrant Workers

Posted June 21st, 2011 at 8:45 pm (UTC-5)
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Indonesian lawmakers have called for a ban on sending domestic labor to countries which have not signed an agreement to protect the rights of foreign workers.

The House of Representatives urged the government Tuesday to apply the ban especially to Saudi Arabia and Malaysia, which critics say have a record of abusing foreign workers.

Saudi authorities Saturday beheaded an Indonesian maid convicted of killing the wife of her Saudi employer. Jakarta has recalled its ambassador from Riyadh to protest the execution, which it says was carried out without prior notification to Indonesian officials. The government also sent a protest note to Saudi Arabia, saying the Saudi authorities had ignored standard consular protocols.

Some Indonesian lawmakers blamed the foreign ministry for failing to protect Indonesian workers abroad and asked Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa to resign.

A group of protesters demonstrated outside the Saudi embassy in Jakarta Tuesday.

The Indonesian Foreign Ministry said more than 200 Indonesian workers are facing death penalties in Malaysia and another 23 in Saudi Arabia.

The government two years ago banned its citizens from working in Malaysia following reports of abuse. The ban was lifted last month after Jakarta reached an agreement with the Malaysian government to improve work conditions for Indonesian workers.

Indonesia has more than a million migrant workers in Saudi Arabia, most of them employed as domestic help.