Saudi execution prompts Indonesia maid travel ban

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Een Nuraeni (L) daughter of Indonesian migrant worker Ruyati, cries during a protest against the execution of her mother outside the Saudi Arabian embassy in Jakarta on June 21, 2011
Image caption,
Relatives of Ruyati binti Sapubi staged protests outside the Saudi embassy in Jakarta

Indonesia is to stop allowing its citizens to work as domestic servants in Saudi Arabia after the execution of a maid for murder last week.

Officials said the moratorium would begin on 1 August and last until the countries could agree on a policy of fair treatment for migrant workers.

Ruyati binti Sapubi, 54, was beheaded on Saturday after confessing to killing her employer, saying he had abused her.

Saudi Arabia apologised for not telling Indonesia, Jakarta said.

About 1.5 million Indonesians work in Saudi Arabia - many of them as domestic maids.

But there have been rows over alleged mistreatment in the recent past.

In April a Saudi woman, convicted of beating and torturing an Indonesian maid, had her conviction quashed on appeal - sparking protests in Indonesia.

Indonesian labour ministry spokeswoman Dita Indah Sari said the department would work closely with other government agencies on tightening all regulations concerning overseas domestic work.


Extra measures would be put in place to ensure no-one travelled to Saudi Arabia to take up domestic employment during the moratorium period, with more officials posted at borders and airports.

"We do not want to see any illegal recruitments during this period," she said.

"We will set up a special task force whose job is to make sure there are no Indonesian workers heading for Saudi when the moratorium is in place."

She said the moratorium would be lifted once the two countries had signed a new agreement on the treatment of migrant workers.

Indonesian media reports said Ruyati binti Sapubi admitted attacking her boss with a meat cleaver after she was denied permission to return home.

The execution caused an outcry in Indonesia.

Saudi Arabia has not yet officially commented, but Indonesian officials said the Saudi ambassador to Jakarta had apologised for carrying out the execution without first informing diplomats and promised that it would not happen again.

Indonesia only recently resumed sending workers to Malaysia, after a row over the abuse of maids there led to a two-year suspension in the practice.