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    Posted January 24, 2014 by
    marioradical
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    Manila, Philippines
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    First Person: Your essays

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    Justice for Erwiana Sulistyaningsih

     
    I refer to the report of Joanna Chiu, “Indonesian maid at centre of 'torture ordeal' row could sue Hong Kong government”, South China Morning Post, January 20.

    Said article concerns an “Indonesian helper who says she was abused for eight months by employer” and that she “considers a case claiming city violated its 'duty of protection'” against her former employer.

    On behalf of the global community, I condemn in the name of humanity to the highest possible degree the inhumanity, barbarity and moral depravity of Erwiana’s employers and in a certain extent, also the Hong Kong authorities for being negligent and lax in enforcing their laws to protect migrant workers.

    Their inefficiency and being inutile is one of the reasons why some Hong Kong employers are abusive and cruel towards their maids.

    This is a shame!

    According to the report:

    “The Indonesian domestic helper who claims she suffered eight months of torture at the hands of her Hong Kong employer may sue the city's government.

    “Lawyers asked about the case of Erwiana Sulistyaningsih, 23, who is in hospital back home, claim the city's human rights laws could have been breached.”

    The head of the Mission for Migrant Workers, Cynthia Ca Abdon-Tellez, said that:

    "We have discussed bringing a case against the government with lawyers. We are now waiting for Erwiana and her family to make a decision."

    I certainly believe without the slightest iota of doubt that the said prospective case to be instituted by Erwiana will undeniably prosper both under the local and international law.

    In reference to this, she has “appointed a lawyer in Hong Kong, said Eman Villanueva, a spokesman for the Asian Migrants' Coordinating Body.”

    As clearly and expressly provided for by Article 3 of the 1997 Bill of Rights Ordinance, the government has a duty to protect people from torture and "cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment".

    The report also clearly highlighted that “Rights lawyer Robert Tibbo, who advised surveillance whistle-blower Edward Snowden” said that “Erwiana's lawyers could sue the government for failing to fulfill its constitutional obligation to provide state protection to victims of torture or cruel treatment.”

    I concur with the said lawyer that “remedies for a violation of those rights can be sought under Section 6 of the Bill of Rights”, though there is no “specific penalty for such a breach is stipulated.”

    I share Tibbo’s shocked when he learnt “that airport immigration officers did not inquire about Erwiana's condition when she left Hong Kong.”

    It seems to me that those airport immigration officers are either blind or stupid that they failed to notice the horrible physical condition of Erwiana, or it could be a clear case of the fact that they don’t care and they don’t give a damn!

    Whatever the hell it is, shame on them!

    As Tibbo sharply observed:

    "The woman showed clear signs of being tortured and nothing less than that. She was emaciated and had a large number of scars on her face, hands and feet."

    The Deputy Director of Hong Kong University law department, Simon Young Ngai-man, lends support to the legal thesis being advance by Tibbo. The Deputy Director stated that: Tibbo’s idea was “definitely worth exploring”.

    He further added that:

    “[Lawyers] could argue the government had acquiesced to torture against Erwiana when immigration officers didn’t do anything or because the government had not monitored employment agencies well enough…”

    This utterly shocking news “came as organisers claimed about 5,000 helpers and supporters marched from police headquarters to the government building in Admiralty yesterday to demand justice for Erwiana.”

    I am proud to note that the Indonesians were joined by their friends from the Philippines. This act of solidarity and togetherness is such a joy to see! The Indonesians and the Filipinos, together with other nationalities has proved that in the quest for equality and recognition and the struggle for justice, we have no distinction, because we are all one!

    The shocking, horrendous and brutal things that happened to Erwiana is also a direct and clear violation of articles 1, 4 and 5 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Articles of the said convention expressly provide that:

    “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.”

    “No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms.”

    “No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”

    While Articles 6 and 7 respectively stipulates that:

    “Everyone has the right to recognition everywhere as a person before the law.”

    “All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law. All are entitled to equal protection against any discrimination in violation of this Declaration and against any incitement to such discrimination.”

    As sequentially narrated by the South China Morning Post:

    “Erwiana arrived in Hong Kong to work as a helper on May 27 and went home to Sragen, Central Java, on January 10. She claims her employer in Tseung Kwan O threatened to kill her family if she revealed her ordeal.”

    Comment:

    Not only does Erwiana’s former employers beaten, tortured and abused her, they even threatened her not to tell the truth.

    I cannot find the exact word to define or describe their evil acts, because in my view, the said employer is the precise and exact manifestation and perfect description of evil.

    That heartless employer is an animal and worst, an animal of the worst kind! Shame to that evil creature!

    I call upon the duly constituted authorities of Hong Kong to comply with its duty under international law and to bring to the bar of justice the heartless and evil perpetrator of violence, abuse and dehumanization committed against Erwiana and her likes!

    I am also calling attention of the international humanistic community to score, compel and pressure Hong Kong to do everything within its power to defend and protect the rights and welfare of all its migrant workers, especially those who work as maids!

    Slavery has no place in our modern civilization and Hong Kong must prove before the rest of the international community that they are not barbaric, uncivilized and uncouth.

    Justice for Erwiana!

    Justice to all Migrant Workers!


    Jose Mario Dolor De Vega

    Philosophy lecturer
    College of Arts and Letters
    Polytechnic University of the Philippines

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