HONG KONG - Hong Kong rights activists slammed the Indonesian government on Thursday for "being silent and passive" over the gruesome murder of two young women in the southern Chinese city.
British banker Rurik Jutting, 29, has been charged with murdering Indonesians Sumarti Ningsih and Seneng Mujiasih after police found their mutilated bodies in his upmarket Hong Kong apartment Saturday.
Police are investigating whether the women were sex workers - the city's notorious Wanchai red light district was minutes away from the crime scene.
The Indonesian government is "lacking a sense of accountability on the plight of Indonesian workers abroad and... (has been) silent and passive on the Wanchai case" a statement from the Hong Kong-based Asian Migrants' Coordinating Body (AMCB) said.
"(The government is) seemingly embarrassed by the whole thing and is focusing on its own investigation on the background and profession of the victims, instead of the crime committed against its nationals," said spokeswoman Eni Lestari.
The group demanded a thorough investigation and punishment for the murderer "to the fullest extent of the law".
Sumarti's parents have called for their daughter's killer to be put to death, although Hong Kong does not have capital punishment.
Seneng had entered the city on a domestic worker visa in 2010, but that had lapsed two years ago, while Sumarti came in on a tourist visa in October.
Lestari said Jakarta was leaving its migrant workers - many of whom seek work abroad to escape poverty at home - at the mercy of unscrupulous government-licensed agencies, which charge exorbitant fees that many workers struggle to repay.
"The Indonesian government is such a hypocrite for keeping its hands off the Wanchai murders, when in fact it has been actively selling its citizens abroad to work in such dangerous occupations as domestic caregivers and turning a blind eye to the prostitution of Indonesian women overseas," Lestari said.
The Indonesian government was not immediately available for comment.
Its foreign affairs ministry has said it would provide legal assistance to the families of the victims - and the manpower ministry has said that it would investigate the local employment agencies that had sent the women to Hong Kong.
In November, Amnesty International condemned the "slavery-like" conditions faced by thousands of Indonesian women who work in Hong Kong as domestic staff.
Government-licensed recruitment agencies in Indonesia "routinely deceive women about salaries and fees, confiscate identity documents and other property as collateral, and charge fees in excess of those permitted by law", Amnesty said at the time.
Two thirds of the maids they interviewed for the special report said they had endured physical or psychological abuse.