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Cablegate: Maid's Abuser Found Guilty, Sentenced to 18 Years

VZCZCXRO8201
PP RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM RUEHNH
DE RUEHKL #1060 3390855
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 040855Z DEC 08
FM AMEMBASSY KUALA LUMPUR
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 2074
INFO RUCNASE/ASEAN MEMBER COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS KUALA LUMPUR 001060

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

FOR EAP/MTS, DRL, AND G/TIP

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PHUM KWMN KCRM KTIP ID MY
SUBJECT: MAID'S ABUSER FOUND GUILTY, SENTENCED TO 18 YEARS

1. (U) In Malaysia's highest profile domestic worker abuse
case, a Kuala Lumpur sessions court judge on November 27
found Yim Pek Ha guilty of three charges of "causing grievous
hurt" to Indonesian maid Nirmala Bonet, a 2008 U.S. TIP
Report Hero. Nirmala suffered horrendous physical abuse,
including significant burns from an iron, in 2004. The court
case began in July 2004 and involved 100 court sessions over
52 months. The judge acquitted Yim of a fourth charge of
"causing hurt" by striking Nirmala with a metal cup. The
judge sentenced Yim to 18 years for each charge, to be served
concurrently. In his remarks, the judge said the offences
committed by Yim showed "sadistic behavior which cannot be
tolerated by society." The judge stated that Yim "deserved"
to serve the sentences consecutively, but in the end, he
deemed a 54-year sentence too harsh. Following her
sentencing, the judge raised Yim's bail to $55,555 (200,000
ringgit), from the original bail of $23,615 (85,000 ringgit).
Yim remains free on bail pending appeal.

2. (SBU) Eka Aryanto, spokesman for the Indonesian Embassy,
told Poloff his embassy was pleased with the sentence, which
hopefully would serve as a deterrent to future abuse of
Indonesians employed as domestic help. Eka also informed us
Nirmala is considering a civil suit to seek compensation from
Yim and her husband. Local media reported human rights
activists' reactions to the verdict. Siva Subramaniam, a
commissioner for Malaysia's Human Rights Commission,
described the Nirmala case as "the tip of an iceberg." He
hoped "irresponsible employers who take advantage of domestic
help" would learn from the case. Irene Fernandez, director
of the NGO Tenaganita, called the 18 year sentence fair. Ivy
Josiah, executive director of Women's Aid Organization said,
"this (conviction) will be a clear message to all who treat
their employees badly."

3. (SBU) Comment: Nirmala's case, particularly the severity
of the physical abuse she endured, attracted international
attention. Yim's guilty verdict and the local press coverage
of this outcome represent a modest step forward in Malaysia's
efforts to deter the abuse of foreign workers, but much
remains to be done. Cases like Nirmala's must overcome the
inertia of a legal system and a public still largely
insensitive to the exploitation of poorly educated, low-wage
migrant workers.
KEITH

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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