Indonesia: Verdict on RI migrant worker in death penalty case postponed

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono is expected to discuss the fate of 20-year old Indonesian migrant worker Wilfrida Soik with Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak at a meeting scheduled to be held on the sidelines of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit in Bali.

This follows the decision by a Malaysian court to postpone its verdict on the East Nusa Tenggara (NTT) native who has been charged with murdering her employer.

The Kota Bharu High Court in Johor adjourned its verdict hearing until Nov. 17.

The court has ordered Wilfrida to undergo a bone examination to determine her age, to verify a report that she was underage when she first entered Malaysia using falsified documents in 2010.

It is reported that scalpers had changed her birth year from 1993 to 1989 in order for her to be able to work.

The court also ordered Wilfrida to undergo a psychiatric evaluation conducted by a team of experts endorsed by both the prosecutors and Wilfrida’s attorneys to confirm whether she suffered from Major Depressive Disorder.

“It has come to my knowledge that the accused was also found to have suffered from Major Depressive Disorder after she was sent for psychiatric observation and therefore it is important to find out her real age,” lawyer Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, part of Wilfrida’s legal team, said as quoted by The Malaysian Insider on Monday.

Responding to the court decision, Wilfrida’s supporters applauded the joint effort to fight for her release.

Rights groups said that the move by the Indonesian government to bring Wilfrida’s case to the high-level APEC Summit could boost the chances of her release.

“Bringing the discussion to the APEC Summit will be a very important move outside of the court,” activist Wahyu Susilo from Migrant Care, an NGO that promotes the rights of immigrant workers, told The Jakarta Post.

Rieke Diah Pitaloka, member of the House of Representatives Commission IX overseeing manpower said that the latest court decision would enable the Indonesian government to make a greater effort to assist Wilfrida.

“We hope that all parties involved in the work to help Wilfrida will focus their efforts on saving her [from the death penalty],” Rieke said in a statement made available to the Post on Monday.

Rieke said that the government’s effort to save Wilfrida could serve as a model for future attempts to help workers that had fallen victim to human trafficking.

Migrant Care claims that Wilfrida, at the time only 17 years old, unintentionally killed her employer, who had allegedly tortured her, in self defense in 2010.

Migrant Care earlier said that Wilfrida would be eligible for protection under the International Convention on the Rights of the Child, which forbids capital punishment for minors.

Meanwhile, Rafendi Djamin, Indonesian representative to the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission for Human Rights (AICHR) called on the United Nations to review Malaysia’s human rights record in a Universal Periodic Review (UPR) scheduled for Oct. 24 in Geneva, Switzerland.

“I must remind Malaysia that Wilfrida entered the country when Indonesia was still implementing a moratorium on immigrant workers,” Rafendi said. Rafendi added that by executing Wilfrida, Malaysia could be accused of promoting capital punishment.

“We are against capital punishment because it violates humanitarian principles. The AICHR is committed to protecting everyone, regardless of their background,” he said.