Where was the outcry over maid’s death, Swiss envoy asks


PETALING JAYA: The Swiss ambassador to Malaysia today lashed out at what he called a general indifference in the country over the death of an Indonesian maid who was forced to sleep with her employer’s Rottweiler dog, saying it was a horrific crime that should not be dismissed as an isolated incident.

Michael Winzap raised the case of 21-year-old domestic worker Adelina Lisao during a question-and-answer session to announce Amnesty International’s latest human rights report on Malaysia.

“There was no outcry in Malaysia despite the horrific crime, and you read reports in the newspapers claiming it was an isolated incident. This is horrible,” he said.

“This is slavery, what is happening. Is Amnesty International, a very important human rights organisation, highlighting such issues and making sure the people of Malaysia know about it?

“Malaysia should not allow any Indonesian maid to enter the country until they can prevent such horrible crimes,” he said.

Swiss ambassador Michael Winzap says Malaysia should not allow any Indonesian maid to enter the country until authorities can prevent such horrible crimes.

Amnesty International Malaysia interim executive director Gwen Lee, who appeared caught off-guard, thanked Winzap for raising the issue and said the organisation noted his remarks.

“Amnesty International does work on human rights issues as a whole, around the world, and we do follow up on what happens on the ground in Malaysia.

“It does not mean that we are not working on the case directly, but we keep tabs on other organisations working on it,” she said before quickly moving on to other questions.

When approached for comments, Winzap declined to speak further on the issue.

During the press conference at the release of the report, Lee said Amnesty International could not comment much on the death of Lisao, who was allegedly abused by her employers in Penang.

“Unfortunately, this case does not fall under our area of work. Our area of work is quite limited, so what we do is to keep tabs on other organisations that work on this so we know what’s going on with the matter.

“We will raise this with Amnesty International and see if we can work on this, or if someone else can work on it on behalf of Amnesty International,” she said.

Lee says Amnesty works on human rights issues as a whole around the world, and follows up on what happens on the ground in Malaysia.

She declined to answer if Amnesty International was taking the incident seriously as such cases appeared to be continuing.

“I won’t be able to answer you at the moment, but we will discuss this internally and we will decide on this,” she said, adding that there had been no such cases recorded in the current Amnesty International report.

“When we talk about human rights, anything that happens to humans are part of human rights. It is impossible for Amnesty International to cover everything, and there are organisations working just on these issues.

“We could be working with them in closed-door meetings and can’t share it openly with everybody.”

Lisao, who was spotted sleeping next to a Rottweiler for two months, died after being hospitalised for her wounds.

She had been found with pus-filled wounds on her hands and legs, and was barely able to walk. She was also suspected of having septicaemia as her wounds did not appear to have healed.

The case sparked uproar among rights groups, with NGO Tenaganita calling it part of “a widespread and deep-seated malaise” in Malaysian society on the treatment of migrant domestic workers.