Friday, May 8, 2015


    Jakarta, May 8 (Antara) - The legal case involving Filipino migrant worker Mary Jane Fiesta Veloso, a death row convict, has drawn significant attention, particularly from Indonesian NGOs and legal experts, as it helped put the country's legal enforcement process in the spotlight.      
   The execution of Mary Jane on April 29, 2015, was delayed following a new development in her case in the Philippines that now requires her testimony.
        The last-minute reprieve came after Mary Jane's recruiters Maria Kristina Sergio and Julius Lacanilo reportedly surrendered to law enforcement authorities in the Philippines, admitting they had tricked Mary Jane into being an unwitting drug mule, resulting in her death penalty.    
    Moreover, Mary Jane is suspected to be a mere victim of human trafficking in the Philippines.

         The migrant worker claimed to have met Sergio in Petaling Jaya in Malaysia and was promised a job in the country.
         She had been informed to wait in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, before she was assigned work and was given a bag to carry her clothing.
         When she arrived at Yogyakarta's Adisutjipto Airport, Mary Jane was caught by customs officers who found 2.6 kilograms of heroin worth Rp5.5 billion concealed in her leather bag.
        Although the illegal drug did not belong to her, Mary Jane was tried and sentenced to death in 2010.
        Mary Jane later applied for a judicial review after her clemency plea was declined by the president. In a judicial review court in March 2015, her plea was also rejected.
        Indonesian Attorney General HM Prasetyo on April 29, the day of execution, stated that Mary Jane's status is still that of a convict as her execution was not cancelled but merely postponed.
       If the new case in her home country, the Philippines, could reveal new evidence, she would be able to apply for a judicial review based on the Constitutional Court's ruling, stating that the application for a judicial review could be carried out more than once.
        "Although she would indeed be proven as a victim of human trafficking, the fact remains that she has brought heroin into Indonesia. The fact will not abolish her responsibility for the crime that Mary has committed," he emphasized.
       The attorney general remarked that the Attorney General's Office will wait for the results of the investigation process into the human trafficking case by the Philippine government.
       He noted that if the Philippine government requires Mary Jane's testimony, they must come to Indonesia.
       "So, till the time she is needed by the Philippine government to unveil the human trafficking case, Mary Jane will remain in Indonesia," he pointed out.
       Minister of Justice of the Philippines Leila de Lima noted that the case will be investigated on May 8-14.
       Former head of Indonesia's Agency for Placement and Protection of Indonesian Migrant Workers (BNP2TKI) Moh. Jumhur Hidayat suspects that Mary Jane is a victim of human trafficking.
       "She could be a victim of human trafficking, trapped in an international drug syndicate," Hidayat recently informed Antara in a short text message.
       He lauded President Joko Widodo's move to postpone her execution.    
   Hidayat claimed that he had sent a letter to the Indonesian president, seeking cancellation of Mary Jane's execution.    
   In the letter, he convinced the Indonesian head of state that sparing the Filipino national from execution would not undermine his authority.
            "On the contrary, the president would receive a lot of support as he would be viewed as a firm and wise figure," he remarked.    
    "It is similar to when Indonesia had tried to defend its migrant workers overseas. I appeal, sir, that you use your power to spare Mary Jane from this execution," he requested in his letter.
         As many as 279 Indonesia migrant workers overseas face the possibility of execution, 36 of whom are in Saudi Arabia and mostly being convicted of murders.
         Meanwhile, Executive Director of Migrant Care Anis Hidayah is of the viewpoint that Mary Jane should not be executed if proven to be a victim of human trafficking.
         "The International Convention for Human Trafficking Crimes, or Palermo Protocol, has clearly said that a victim who is a witness should not be executed because she has to give a testimony," Hidayah stated in Jakarta recently.
          If she is indeed a human trafficking victim, it could become a new norm to apply for a judicial review in the Supreme Court (MA) over her capital punishment.
         Migrant Care's activist will go to the Philippines to follow the legal proceedings of Maria Kristina Sergio's case who had recruited Mary Jane.
         Based on the findings from the Philippines, the NGO, in coordination with the National Commission for Women and Mary Jane's lawyer, will file a judicial review in the MA.
          "We must follow the legal process in the Philippines to see whether Mary Jane is indeed a victim of human trafficking" he said.
         There are also several Indonesians trapped as illicit drug couriers in the Philippines, China, and Malaysia, he remarked.
         According to the Jakarta Legal Aid Institute (LBH), the execution of several death row convicts and the conviction of Mary Jane are counterproductive to the government's attempts to save Indonesians abroad.
   "Mary Jane is a migrant worker, a house maid, similar to 264 Indonesians facing death sentence in several other countries," LBH public lawyer Eny Rofiatul noted in a statement.
          Eny emphasized that Mary Jane cannot be charged for the crime if it was proved that she was a victim of human trafficking, which is not rare befalling migrant workers.
         It is regulated in Chapter 18 of Law Number 21 of 2007 on human trafficking criminal act, she pointed out.
         "Regardless of the country of origin, migrant workers are always surrounded by structural conditions of poverty," she added.
         The LBH has urged the government to seriously address the case of Mary Jane.
          "As an institution upholding human rights and principles, the Jakarta LBH views that any individual's right to live cannot be violated by anyone, including the state," its director Febi Yonesta affirmed.
         The institution has, therefore, strongly urged President Joko Widodo to ensure that Mary Jane is given the necessary legal aid to prove that she is not guilty.
         "The fact at court sessions showed that she had always been consistent in saying that she was ordered by someone and was not aware that there were drugs in her bag," Febi remarked.
         He said the LBH regretted the fact that the police had failed to provide sufficient legal aid to Mary Jane during her interrogations, and she was not given a Tagalog interpreter, including during the court sessions.
        Legal aid and interpreter are regulated in the country's criminal law book, he pointed out.
        The injustice faced by Mary Jane was that she could not defend herself appropriately, which resulted in her death sentence that almost cost her life if the real criminal had not surrendered herself in the Philippines.
   The decision to delay the migrant worker's execution was also hailed by activists of the Indonesian Migrant Workers Network (JBMI).
         "My colleagues and I are very pleased with the temporary decision. Our hard work of visiting churches, mass organizations, and state institutions and lobbying to push the government to stop Mary Jane's execution did not go in vain," JBMI activist Iweng Karsiwen noted in Cilacap, Central Java.
        "If Kristina and Julius are found guilty of owning those illicit drugs, the Indonesian government should release her," he stressed.
          In the meantime, Coordinator of the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras) Haris Azhar stated that Mary Jane's case should be expedited to improve the performance of law enforcement agencies in Indonesia.
        "Law enforcement officials should be smarter. When you see Mary Jane's profile, you know that she is not a drug dealer," Azhar stated recently.
        He pointed out that the initial proceedings related to the Filipino national's case were not conducted properly. There was no translator accompanying her. This indicates that the legal proceedings in Mary Jane's case were not carried out properly.
        In addition, the investigators also never attempted to locate the people mentioned in her legal proceedings. In fact, she had even identified a person who had sent her and who had been targeted.
        "If they did not find sufficient evidence through investigations, they should have gone to the Philippines to probe the case properly," he added.
((T.F001/A/BESSR/A. Abdussalam) 08-05
-2015 16:08:00

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