SAUDI ARABIA/PHILIPPINES: Melanie Cordon serves out sentence as government turns its back


Urgent Appeal Case: AHRC-UAU-045-2011
ISSUES: Administration of justice, Arbitrary arrest & detention, Migrant workers, Right to fair trial, Victims assistance & protection,

Dear friends, 

Further to our last update, the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) deeply regrets to inform you that Melanie Cordon, a domestic worker convicted in absentia over a fabricated case, had chosen not to question her conviction but would rather to serve her sentence in prison in order to return home as soon as possible. 


Mario, Melanie’s brother contacted the Asian Human Rights Commission over the weekend and informed us that Melanie is determined to serve out her sentence of four months so that she can return to the Philippines as quickly as possible. She has no desire to engage the government of Saudi Arabia in order to seek a retrial in order to prove her innocence. 

This is unfortunate for several reasons, the very least of which is that a miscarriage of justice has been allowed to happen by the courts of Saudi Arabia and the negligence of the officials of the Embassy of the Philippines. Another reason being that, with a criminal record against her name it is unlikely that Melanie will ever be permitted to work in the Middle East again. Of course, whether she might want to or not is another matter. However, it may also affect her chances of finding overseas employment at any time in the future. 

Another reason is Mario’s disillusionment with the Department of Foreign Affairs. As we have mentioned in our previous update (AHRC-UAU-044-2011) Mario attended the office of Mr. Raul Hernandez in the company of two well-known and respected journalists. In the presence of these media personnel Mr. Hernandez promised Mario that representatives from the Embassy would visit Melanie in prison and offer any possible assistance. The assistance that this representative offered Melanie was simply to tell her to serve out her sentence. The unspoken message being that it was simply too much trouble for the Embassy or the government of the Philippines to get involved. Mario now has to consider his own livelihood and that of his family and this has weighed his decision to accept that of his sister. 

The concern now is that Melanie may not be released even after her four month sentence is up as is the case of several other Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) in the Ha’il prison. How many other Filipina OFWs are in a similar situation in other Saudi jails is unknown and it does not appear that the Embassy is in any way interested in finding out. Melanie has at no time been given or even shown any documentation that reveals the charge, verdict and sentence and, incredibly, the representative of the Embassy who visited her did not consider it important enough to obtain a copy. 

We therefore ask the Government of the Philippines, including Mr. Raul Hernandez of the Department of Foreign Affairs, and the officials of the Embassy of the Philippines in Saudi Arabia to take serious note that it will be their sole responsibility to ensure that Melanie is returned home to her loved ones without delay or further obstacles at the end of her sentence. 

Melanie’s case is a sad reflection on the care granted to the OFWs of the Philippines by their government. 

Thank you. 

Urgent Appeals Programme 
Asian Human Rights Commission (