Indonesian migrant worker in Sabah wrongfully whipped before appeal heard

SOME 45 groups and organisations led by the Malaysians Against Death Penalty and Torture (MADPET) have cried foul over the whipping  of Indonesian migrant worker Sabri Umar at the Tawau Prison on June 23 despite his High Court appeal has yet to be heard following his conviction/sentence by the Sessions Court.

The group of 45 comprised five Indonesian-based organisations, namely the Federasi SERBUK Indonesia; Federasi Serikat Buruh Kehutanan Perkayuan dan Pertanian Serikat Buruh Sejahtera Indonesia (HUKATAN); Federation of Indonesia Workers’ Awakening (FKUI), Koalisi Buruh Migran Berdaulat Indonesia and Migrant Care Indonesia.

Sabri, a union member of the Sabah Timber Industry Employees Union (STIEU), has claimed that he was wrongfully terminated by his employer on April 4 this year prior to being arrested by the police the next day and detained until he was charged and convicted on April 19.

However, he did manage to file a wrongful dismissal claim in the Industrial Relations Department on the same day (April 19) to seek reinstatement whereby this process is on-going.

“The employer who knew that Sabri was not an undocumented worker failed to bring to the attention of the police, prosecutors and court this material fact which reasonably would have meant Sabri would not be charged, let alone be convicted for being illegally in Malaysia under Section 6(1)( c) Immigration Act,” the joint media statement by the group of 45 pointed out.

“Fu Yee Corp Sdn Bhd (the employer) should be doing the needed to end the current serious miscarriage of justice.”

According to the joint statement, a perusal of court documents revealed that the Immigration documents tendered to the court was “false” as it stated that there was no records of entry and exit for Sabri.

“It failed to disclose the truth that Sabri was indeed a documented migrant worker for the past (about) seven years, and that he was under the employment of one Fu Yee Corp in Tawau, Sabah,” noted the joint statement.

“His work permit also had been renewed by the Immigration Department in 2022 and should reasonably be valid for a year.”

Moreover, the joint statement said the prosecution had also failed in its duty to properly investigate the case before charging Sabri. An investigation would have revealed that Sabri was a documented worker who cannot be charged under Section 6(1)( c) of the Immigration Act.

“It must be pointed out that Sabri was arrested at his workplace on April 5. There also seem to be no charges against the employer Fu Yee Corp for harbouring or employing an undocumented worker,” argued the joint statement.

“Sabri’s case has come to light but there is concern about whether others have been whipped before their appeal is heard and disposed of. Whipping is a corporal punishment that inflicts serious physical and psychological injury where victims are known to pass out even before the full sentence is carried out.”

In stating that the Malaysian Bar is unequivocally and unreservedly against all forms of corporal punishment, including caning or whipping, the group of 45 called for:

  • Malaysia to immediately apologise and do the needful to ensure justice be done for the wrongful or illegal whipping of Sabri before his criminal appeal/s is heard and to act against those responsible;
  • The immediate abolition of whipping, a form of corporal punishment in Malaysia; and
  • Malaysia to immediately ratify the United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. – July 19, 2022


Pic credit: Reuters

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