Field report: A call to seek justice for Adelina

Adelina Lisao


Adelina Lisao was a young Indonesian domestic worker in Malaysia who passed away on February 11, 2018 due to organ failure as a result of allegedly suffering physical and emotional abuse and forced labor at the hands of her employers in a private home for two years.

Adelina’s employer, Ambika MA Shan, was acquitted of murder in 2019, a decision that was upheld by the Court of Appeal in September 2020.

We launched the petition together with Tenaganita in October 2020 calling on Malaysia’s Attorney General to charge Adelina’s employer under Section 304 of the Penal Code, which sets out penalties for deaths caused by culpable homicide or negligence, to ensure Adelina’s abusers are brought to justice.


Freedom United partner, Tenaganita, rescued Adelina after finding her outside her employer’s home in 2018, severely malnourished and covered in burns and open wounds. Adelina was barely able to speak. Her employer had forced her to sleep outside next to a barking dog for over a month to prevent her from “dirtying the home” with her untreated wounds.

In 2019, the High Court acquitted Adelina’s employer Ambika MA Shan on grounds of health concerns and lack of evidence and, in 2020, the bench in the Court of Appeal affirmed the decision put forth by the High Court.

We urgently called on Malaysia to ensure justice for Adelina by any means and send a clear message that the Malaysian justice system does not condone the abuse and exploitation of migrant domestic workers.

Campaign timeline:

September 25, 2020: The Attorney General’s Chambers has given 14 days for an appeal to be filed against the decision of the Court of Appeal. Please support this petition as a sign of protest against a system which has unjustly penalized and denied domestic workers of their fundamental liberties.

June 21, 2022: Ahead of Malaysia’s Federal Court’s decision on whether it will reverse the murder acquittal for Adelina’s former employer, we and our partner Tenaganita delivered all 12,816 Freedom United petition signatures to the Chief Justice of Malaysia, The Right Honourable Tun Tengku Maimun binti Tuan Mat, ahead of the hearing, reiterating our call for justice for Adelina.

June 23, 2022: Malaysia’s top court has affirmed the murder acquittal of Adelina’s employer, largely over legal missteps by the prosecution.


We believe the Malaysian prosecution has failed by affirming the murder acquittal of Adelina’s former eployer, and unfortunately, this means we continue to cultivate a culture of impunity for perpetrators among employers of domestic workers. Today’s impunity is tomorrow’s crime. We and our partner Tenaganita will continue to seek justice for Adelina. More details on the Federal Court ruling.

Our partner in this campaign:


Tenaganita is a Malaysian human rights organisation dedicated in assisting, building, advocating and protecting migrants, refugees, women and children from exploitation, abuse, discrimination, slavery and human trafficking.


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