Indonesian migrant worker sentenced to death for drug trafficking in Malaysia
by Mathias Hariyadi

The accused was arrested in 2013 at Penang airport with four kilos of amphetamines in her suitcase. According to some activists, she is yet another victim of traffickers who exploit the desperation of migrant workers. She received the suitcase from people she did not know and was not aware of the content. At least 158 ​​Indonesian nationals are on death row in Malaysia.

Kuala Lumpur (AsiaNews) – Rita Krisdianti, an Indonesian migrant worker, was sentenced to death by hanging in Malaysia for drug possession.

Originally from Ponorogo (East Java), she was arrested in 2013 at Penang airport after agents found four kilos of amphetamines in her suitcase.

For human rights activists, she is the latest victim of traffickers who exploit poor migrant workers as drug couriers without their knowledge.

Rita Krisdianti flew to Hong Kong in January 2013 to work as a cleaner for a local family, said Anis Hidayah, an activist with Migrant Care, an Indonesian-based organisation.

After three months she moved to Macao, where she stayed at a migrant centre for another three months waiting for a work permit.

Set on going home to Indonesia, Rita was convinced by a Macao resident to go to New Delhi (India) to meet someone who was willing to offer her a job.

In the Indian city, some men asked her to fly to Malaysia carrying a suitcase for someone who would pick her up on arrival, but they did not tell her the contents.

When she arrived at the airport in July 2013, she was stopped and arrested by police. Since then, she was tried 19 times, the last of which ended in a death sentence.

Rita’s case is very similar to that of another woman, a 30-year-old maid from the Philippines, Mary Jane Veloso, who has been on death row in Indonesia since 2010 after she was stopped at the airport with 2.6 kilos of heroin.

Veloso has always claimed her innocence, saying that she was the victim of a scam. Requests for pardon on her behalf have come from various Asian countries. In Indonesia 15 executions are scheduled shortly, but Veloso is not one of them.

Rita Krisdianti is not the only migrant worker on death row in Malaysia. According to the Indonesian Foreign Ministry, at least 158 ​​Indonesians are waiting to be hanged, 60 per cent for drug-related offences.

About two million Indonesians work in Malaysia as domestic workers, on plantations, on construction sites, and in manufacturing.