Justice to Adelina

We, organizations of domestic workers in Malaysia, AMMPO and PERTIMIG, feel outraged to hear that S. Ambika, the employer of Adeline Sao, was absent from the court hearing at the Federal Court of Malaysia.

Adeline, the 21-year-old Indonesian migrant domestic worker, died of organ failure in February 2018. Her justice is yet to be sought. We hope the arrest warrant issued by the court today can help. A suspect of murder walking free, is not only unjust for Adelina but also sets a wrong example to the whole society.

The abuse to death case, which is only one of the many, reveals that the Malaysian legal system has failed to protect the basic rights of domestic workers. Migrant domestic workers are still in forced labour situations. In 2020-2021, PERTIMIG and AMMPO received around 75 complaints from domestic workers about unpaid salary, salary deduction, document withholding, no day offs, illnesses, physical abuses and sexual harassment. It proves the weakness or even the obvious absence of protection for migrant domestic workers by the Malaysian authorities. Most migrant domestic workers in Malaysia do not have access to communication, no day-off, or their passports are withheld by employers, or, worse, they are locked up in the employers’ homes without any possibility of mobility. Although there have been many attempts to change the conditions of migrant domestic workers in Malaysia, the fact of the matter is that migrant domestic workers are not even recognised as workers, according to the Employment Act of 1955. Migrant domestic workers are excluded from the provision of the Employment Act 1955. This means that domestic workers cannot access basic worker rights such as rest days and holidays, maternity rights and protection, or work extremely long or short hours.

Next week, the Malaysian Parliament will have its 2nd reading of the Employment Amendment (Bill) 2021. The change of the term of domestic workers in the Bill from “servants” to “domestic employees” should have set a bearing on workers’ rights – domestic workers are workers. However, exclusion of domestic workers from its clauses in the Bill is not a substantial change in this direction. We, Persatuan Pekerja Rumah Tangga Indonesia Migran (PERTIMIG), Asosasyon ng mga Makabayang
Manggagawang Pilipino Oveseas (AMMPO) in Malaysia with the International Domestic Workers Federation (IDWF) demand that the Malaysian government must:

ENSURE justice for Adelina and her family – the prosecution must work in full swing to search and arrest S. Ambika with the court warrant.
ENSURE that the Employment Amendment (Bill) 2021 has not excluded domestic workers from any provision of the Bill by removing the exclusion of domestic workers in the first schedule section 2(1) of Employment Act 1955.
ESTABLISH A CLEAR DEFINITION ON FORCED LABOR, legal provisions and mechanisms in line with the ILO Convention 29 and the P029 – Protocol of 2014 to the Forced Labor Convention, 1930 as referred to in this article to ensure that domestic workers are free from any practice of forced labor that has been happening so far and to provide victims protection and access to appropriate and effective remedies, such as compensation, and to sanction the perpetrators of forced or compulsory labor.
ESTABLISH effective monitoring and labor inspection system under the Ministry of Human Resource Malaysia;
RATIFY C189 on Decent Work for Domestic Workers.

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