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HK govt asked to explain early release of Erwiana’s employer

22 November 2018

At the press conference denouncing Law's early release. Tutik is 3rd from left

By Vir B. Lumicao

Indonesian former domestic helper Erwiana Sulistyaningsih has called on the Hong Kong government to protect migrant workers from abuse, as she expressed sadness at the early release from jail of her former employer and torturer Law Wan-tung.

Erwiana with her parents at her graduation .
Law was sentenced to six years in jail in February 2015 for the abuse she inflicted on Erwiana and another Indonesian helper, Tutik Lestari, but was reportedly allowed early release a few months ago by the Correctional Services Department.

Erwiana expressed her dismay in a voice message played at a media briefing held by the Justice for Erwiana and All Migrant Domestic Workers Committee at KUC Space at 2 Jordan Road on Nov. 22.

“I feel very sad and disappointed when I learned that my former employer Law Wan-tung was released from jail earlier than the actual imprisonment that she had to serve,” Erwiana said in her message which was beamed live from Indonesia.

“The six-year sentence is not even adequate for the terrible crimes that she committed against me and her other victims,” she said.

Tutik, who was present at the conference, said she is now afraid for her safety because of Law’s previous threats to kill her and her family.

Supporters of the migrant workers’ cause called the early release a great injustice. One, Mission for Migrant Workers general manager Cynthia Abdon-Tellez, said they would take legal advice on what action should be taken in response to Law’s early release.

Tellez expressed anger at the decision to set Law free early, since she has refused to admit her guilt and show remorse.

She also asked how prison authorities could override a sentence imposed by a court.

“How can one say that the decision of a higher body which is the court is undermined by an implementing body like a correctional institution? The people need to know.”

Law’s release just three years into her six-year sentence was revealed in District Court on Nov 21 by Justice Department lawyer Yvonne Cheung, who is chasing Law for $200,000 in court costs for one of her failed legal actions.

Cheung told local media that Law “was released a few months ago,” adding that the department found out only when a call was made to the Lo Wu Correctional Institution, where the convict was serving her sentence.

In December last year, Law was ordered to pay $809,000 in compensation to Erwiana for her suffering.

“It is my hope that Law Wan-tung can admit to her wrongdoing, apologize to her victims, and resolve never do the same thing to anyone ever again,” Erwiana said.

She also urged the Hong Kong government to immediately reform the unfavorable regulations for foreign domestic workers and ensure that there will be no more victims of domestic violence and slavery in the city.

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