A Step in the right direction : Amir Communtes Filipina maid’s death sentence

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Dec 10 2007

Published Date: December 09, 2007

KUWAIT CITY: Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah agreed on Sunday to commute the death sentence on a Filipina maid to life in prison after a personal appeal by the visiting Philippine president.

"Normally I don't interfere in the judicial process. We have a separate judicial system," Philippines presidential spokesman Ignacio Bunye quoted the emir as saying during a meeting with President Gloria Arroyo.

"But since you are here to personally appeal for her, I will not sign the decree of execution. That is within my power," Bunye quoted Sheikh Sabah as telling Arroyo during their brief meeting.

Arroyo arrived in Kuwait on Sunday on a day-long visit to the Gulf state to urge that the death sentence passed on Marilou Ranario, who was convicted of killing her female Kuwaiti employer, be commuted.

Sheikh Sabah also vowed to "further reduce the penalty" when the parties sign a forgiveness letter, said Bunye in reference to an agreement by the victim's family to forgive Ranario.

Arroyo was due to leave Kuwait later in the day. In 2005, Ranario was sentenced to be hanged for killing her 46-year-old female employer, who she claimed had insulted and humiliated her and her country.

Philippines Vice-President Noli de Castro previously met the victim's family and sought their forgiveness in the hope of paying "blood money" to spare Ranario's life, but the overture was rejected.

Another Filipina maid is also on death row after Kuwait's appeals court in September confirmed her death sentence for killing her employers' two children early this year. She is awaiting the final verdict of the supreme court. Ranario's case has drawn widespread attention in the Philippines, where the economy relies heavily on remittances from nearly 8 million Filipinos working overseas. Of that eight million, about 73,000 work in Kuwait. Some 60,000 are women employed mainly as maids and earning less than 200 dollars a month on average, labour groups say. - AFP

Advancing the rights of migrant workers throughout the Middle East