Malaysia: Whipped migrant worker acquitted, unions mull reparation
An Indonesian migrant worker in Malaysia who was caned after being wrongly convicted for being an illegal alien was acquitted by the Tawau High Court in Sabah on 22 July.
According to reports, Sabri’s legal defence was able to present documents, such as a valid passport and work pass, to prove that the migrant worker’s stay in the country is valid.
Sabri also reportedly misunderstood the terms of his guilty plea. He mistakenly assumed that by pleading guilty, he would immediately be deported to his country. Instead, he was sentenced to 11 months in prison and five strokes of the cane.
BWI, together with various trade unions, human rights groups and civil society organisations, condemned the whipping of Sabri bin Umar at the Tawau prison, arguing that the caning was carried out despite a pending legal appeal. They also called for the abolition of whipping as a corporal punishment, saying it is against international human rights standards.
BWI said that the Sabri’s acquittal was the result of the collective efforts of different groups, including the legal interventions of Engrit Liaw, General Secretary of the Sabah Timber Industry Employees Union (STIEU).
BWI trade union affiliates said that they are studying the next legal steps that Sabri can take, such as demanding for reparation for the unwarranted whipping that he received from the Malaysian authorities, and a review of the processes that led to his wrongful conviction to determine levels of accountability.