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    » 05/11/2012, 00.00


    Sentenced to death in S Arabia in 2007, Rizana Nafeek's life hangs by a thread

    Melani Manel Perera

    Falsely charge of murder, the young woman has been in jail since she was 17. The European Union is closely monitoring the case. For Saudi authorities, the "case is not yet closed." Sri Lanka is trying to get the victim's family to pardon her.

    Colombo (AsiaNews) - Rizana Nafeek, a Sri Lankan Muslim woman on death row in Saudi Arabia, is holding onto her life by a thread. Despite countless appeals for her release, in and outside the country, by the Sri Lankan government, NGOs and Caritas, the young woman remains in jail for the murder of the newly born baby of the family that employed her.

    According to EU High Representative and Vice President Catherine Ashton, the European Union "will continue to follow it [Rizana's case] very attentively, in close coordination with the authorities of her home country, Sri Lanka". In fact, for Saudi authorities, the case "is not yet closed".

    Sentenced in 2007, Rizana Nafeek comes from Mutur, a poor village in the eastern district of Trincomalee. She arrived in saudi Arabia when she was only 17 on a forged passport to work as a maid. Her employer's child died when she was working for him.

    After she was accused of killing the baby, she was subjected to a phoney trial and sentenced to death based on a confession she signed but whose contents she did not know in a language she did not speak.

    A foreign employment agent in Sri Lanka was arrested last year and charged for giving her forged documents.

    Sri Lankan authorities have been active in trying to keep Rizana's case in the news. Last Wednesday, Foreign Employment Minister Dilan Perera said that the execution order had been suspended. He added that a Sri Lankan delegation visited the dead child's family to seek a pardon.

    According to the Asian Human Rights Commission, Saudi Arabia has one the world's highest execution rates.

    At the end of 2009, Amnesty International reported that at least 141 people were on death row in Saudi prisons, 104 foreigners.

    Migrant workers from Africa, Asia and the Mideast are the main victims.


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    See also

    09/07/2011 SRI LANKA
    Sinhalese and Tamil Muslims together for Rizana Nafeek
    The muslim maid was sentenced to death in Saudi Arabia for allegedly killing an infant in 2005. Q protest rally is held outside the Saudi Embassy. Activists say that the child’s death was an accident and blame both countries for the situation.

    10/01/2013 SAUDI ARABIA- SRI LANKA
    Migration flows to Saudi Arabia must be regulated to avoid another Rizana Nafeek
    Source talks to AsiaNews about illegal labour practices involving migrants to Saudi Arabia from Sri Lanka, India and Pakistan. "Exporting" countries fail to protect their migrants. In Rizana Nafeek's case, Sri Lankan authorities failed to provide her with a lawyer during her trial.

    05/12/2012 SRI LANKA - SAUDI ARABIA
    Sri Lanka's Church and government hope for Rizana Nafeek's release
    The Saudi crown prince announces a pardon for death row inmates as a blessing for the health of his ailing king. The young Muslim woman was sentenced to death in 2007 for allegedly killing an infant. A Catholic nun expresses joy at the news, but urges the government to protect better migrant workers.

    06/06/2012 SRI LANKA
    Social activists to Elizabeth II: For Diamond Jubilee, save Rizana Nafeek’s life
    The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) sends a letter to the Queen of England, who is celebrating 60 year reign. Since 2007, the Sri Lankan girl is sentenced to death in Saudi Arabia for the alleged murder of a newborn babay.

    22/01/2013 SRI LANKA
    Rizana Nafeek’s mother: I do not want money, but protection for all migrants like my daughter
    She has refused any financial help following the execution of the girl, sentenced to death in Saudi Arabia in 2007. Church and civil society in the country are organizing petitions and collecting signatures to demand laws in Sri Lanka to protect migrant workers.

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