18 December 2020
Chiang Mai, Thailand
In a web event held today on International Migrants Day, civil society activists demanded the governments of Indonesia and the Philippines to work together to bring migrant worker and a human trafficking victim Mary Jane back to the Philippines. Since 2010, Mary Jane has been languishing in jail on death row in Indonesia for drug trafficking charges.
Civil society organisations and activists have also written a letter asking that both governments guarantee Mary Jane a fair and impartial legal proceedings without any delay. They also demanded her right to testify against her traffickers through a deposition or trial with legal representation.
In October 2019, the Philippine Supreme Court granted Mary Jane Veloso the right to testify against her recruiters through deposition in Indonesia. On receiving this favourable decision, Mary Jane’s supporters and family members expected justice would prevail and that Mary Jane would be soon freed. “That’s enough of Mary Jane’s sufferings! We call on the Indonesian government to speed up her case and decide in favour of her. Her family has long been waiting for her release, as she has proven many times in public that she is innocent and she is the victim of human trafficking. Justice delayed is justice denied,” said Dolores Pelaez, from Asia Pacific Mission for Migrants who spoke at the web event today.
Participants in the webinar, including migrants workers, migrant groups activists and lawyers also launched a postcard campaign, writing to the family of Mary Jane with messages of hope, solidarity and support. Joanna Concepcion from Migrante International added, “The Philippines Supreme Court has already declared Mary Jane a victim of human trafficking. Every day she continues to be imprisoned in death row she is denied justice and protection that victims of exploration rightfully deserves. The world has not forgotten Mary Jane and we will continue to fight for her freedom.”
Barriers to access to justice are one of the key reasons why migrant workers are systemically exposed to human rights violations during recruitment and employment. “Mary Jane’s experience is not an isolated case and indeed shared by many migrant women who are victims of discriminatory laws, policies and inaccessible justice systems. International human rights community recognises that death penalty directly violates the most fundamental human rights – the right to life. The government of the Philippines must fulfill its international legal obligation by bringing Mary Jane back home without any further delay.” added Misun Woo, Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (APWLD).
The event ended with civil society activists highlighting the dire need for sending countries to implement new measures to protect the rights of migrant workers. Governments should address the barriers that prevent migrants from accessing justice and to take active measures to end the tragedy of Mary Jane and other victims of human trafficking.
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