(MENAFN - Arab News) Indonesia has stepped up efforts to save the lives of five housemaids currently on death row in Saudi Arabia.
The five cases are critical because the workers involved in these cases have exhausted all legal options following their convictions by Saudi courts on different criminal charges.
The workers are now seeking clemency from the victims' families and from the Saudi government.
Shabda Thian, a spokesman of the Indonesian Embassy, said here yesterday that "most of the prisoners had been convicted for petty crimes and many of them had completed their sentences awaiting repatriation back home to Jakarta after fulfilling related obligations."
Thian added: "We are talking to the families of the victims and offering blood money, while the Saudi government agencies have extended all possible support to settle the cases."
The cases emerged after the General Court in Dammam exonerated Indonesian maid Nurqoyah Bint Marsan Dasan Nuriya, 41, of murder charges last week, which paved the way for her release. But the good news for Nuriya was preceded by an episode in which Sri Lankan maid Rizana Nafeek, 24, was executed a few weeks before despite a desperate appeal for clemency.
Thian noted that the Indonesian diplomatic missions managed to solve 14 similar cases last year in which workers were handed down death penalty.
"Thanks to the Saudi government that the embassy has managed to repatriate eight workers out of the 14 so far, while six are awaiting repatriation," added the embassy's spokesman.
Asked whether the consular visits to jails are allowed periodically by the host government to check the health of the prisoners and to expedite the process of repatriation, Thian pointed out that "the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs had always been facilitating such visits."
"Recently, the Foreign Ministry has introduced a new electronic system under which our requests for consular visits are processed online that allows us promptly to visit a particular prison house or center," he said.
But he said that the embassy and the consulate in Jeddah have massive workloads in terms of dealing with the cases.
"We have been receiving some 10 to 15 labor-related cases on a daily basis," said the spokesman.
The lawyer said that "the normal labor-related cases are not problematic " but the murder cases are handled by special attorneys well-versed in Sharia and who can study the verdicts to prepare grounds to approach a higher court or negotiate with the victims' families." The local Indonesian mission has appointed five lawyers to handle special cases related to legal violation and criminal offenses.
Indonesia created this special task force to protect migrant workers. The task force's members focus on migrant workers facing the death penalty in different countries, including Malaysia, China, Iran and Saudi Arabia. On the question of the deployment of maids from Indonesia to Saudi Arabia, the spokesman said that there is a still a deadlock. However, the two sides are in touch with each other, he added.