More than 200 Indonesian workers are on death row or facing possible capital punishment in neighboring Malaysia, mostly for illegal drug possession, local press said Saturday.
English daily The Jakarta Post reported it was estimated 279 workers are in detention, facing the capital punishment or charges, 95 percent of whom are Indonesians from Aceh province, a place of many hidden marijuana fields.
"The government cannot interfere in the Malaysian judicial system because both countries impose harsh sanctions on such criminal acts," Manpower and Transportation Minister Erman Suparno was quoted as saying.
Erman said several Acehnese sentenced to death in drug cases were awaiting execution after their appeals were rejected by the Malaysian Higher Court.
He declined to reveal how much the government had spent to provide legal assistance to the workers, but said his office and the Foreign Affairs Ministry had worked closely to lobby Malaysian authorities to protect the workers' rights and to recruit Malaysian lawyers to accompany them during the police investigation and at court hearings.
In addition, Erman said, several Indonesian migrant workers are on death row in Saudi Arabia for their alleged involvement in murder cases at their workplaces.