Thursday, November 26, 2015

Newly signed ASEAN pact vs. human trafficking seen to benefit Mary Jane Veloso

A pro-OFW group on Wednesday expressed hope that the signing of the ASEAN Convention Against Human Trafficking in Person (ACTIP) will benefit Mary Jane Veloso, the Filipina on death row in Indonesia for drug smuggling.
 
In a statement, Migrante International noted that among the signatories was Indonesian President Joko Widodo. A report on Antara News said the ACTIP will be used as an effective legal framework for the ASEAN region to overcome human trafficking.
 
"These are all very welcome developments and, hopefully, indications that Pres. Widodo continues to hear our plea for Mary Jane and all other victims of trafficking who are presently on Indonesian death row," said Mic Catuira, Migrante International's deputy secretary-general.
 
The group believes that the signing of the convention is "one step towards attaining justice for drug trafficking victim Mary Jane Veloso."
 
Veloso, arrested at the Yogyakarta Airport in 2010 for carrying 2.6 kilos of heroin, was spared from execution on the last minute in late April after the Indonesian government granted the Philippines' appeal to have her testify against the recruiters who allegedly tricked her into smuggling illegal drugs abroad.
 
The alleged recruiters are currently facing trial in Nueva Ecija, Philippines.
 
Widodo signed ACTIP together with other leaders of the ASEAN during the ASEAN summit in Malaysia over the weekend. The ACTIP will focus on curbing and fighting trafficking in the region, especially of women and children.
 
The signing of the Convention came in light of reports that Indonesia has announced a “moratorium” on executions to focus on the country’s economy.
 
"We pray that Pres. Widodo will make good his commitment to fight trafficking by evaluating cases such as Mary Jane’s," Catuira said. "Pres. Widodo can set an example in the region by granting clemency and pardon to Mary Jane, a victim of trafficking."
 
Catuira also urged the Philippine government to ensure that the trafficking and illegal recruitment cases filed against Mary Jane’s traffickers "embark without further delay."
 
"The resolution of these cases will prove once and for all Mary Jane’s innocence. It has been eight months since Mary Jane’s temporary reprieve, and still the trials are in their preliminary stages," she said.
 
Scheduled arraignment for Mary Jane’s traffickers on cases of large-scale and syndicated illegal recruitment will not be until February 2016, following series of delaying tactics by the defense. Meanwhile, the qualified trafficking case filed by Mary Jane herself and the Veloso family is yet to roll in court. —KBK, GMA News

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