20 March 2018
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  • » 11/09/2010, 00.00


    Sri Lankan Muslim teenager sentenced to death in Saudi Arabia. Appeal of Catholics

    Melani Manel Perera

    Fr. George Sigamony, director of Caritas Sri Lanka, calls on all Catholics to pray after the verdict that decrees the death sentence for Rizana, just 17 years old, in prison on false charges of murder. The Asian Human Rights Commission: "Do not let Rizana Nafeek become a victim of the infamous practice of Saudi Arabia to sentence juvenile offenders to death."

    Colombo (AsiaNews) - It's official: the young girl Rizana Nafeek only 17 years of age, in prison since 2005 on false charges of murder, has been sentenced to death. Fr. George Sigamony, national director of Caritas Sri Lanka, speaks out on his case, and together with AsiaNews launches and appeal for her, and for all migrant workers whose situation has become unsustainable, "Now that, unfortunately, the verdict has been issued, the only thing we can do is continue to pray for her and her situation". The girl's death sentence was upheld on appeal in late October. Rizana, a minor at the time, was sent to Saudi Arabia - on a false passport - to work as a care giver. When the child of her employer died while she was bottle feeding, she was accused of murder and sentenced to death in a sham trial based on a signed confession, the content of which she did not know, because it was written in another language. After obtaining legal protection and a translator, she retracted the confession, explaining that the tragic death was simply an accident. But nothing has helped.

    Fr. Sigamony has been campaigning for Rizana’s release since 2007. He tells AsiaNews: "We have carried out many campaigns in Sri Lanka, and collected thousands of signatures that we sent to the competent authorities in Saudi Arabia. In addition, we have attracted international attention, thanks to the Caritas network, but without success. " The director of Caritas also underlines another aspect of the situation: "The culprit who sent Rizana to Saudi Arabia illegally [the girl was underage when she started to work] is still alive, free, working and enjoying all his rights : is also to blame. We wish to express our opposition, and urge the Government to implement a policy that protects migrant workers".

    Meanwhile, the Asian Human Rights Commission (Ahcr) has released a statement: "Do not let Rizana Nafeek become a victim of the infamous practice of Saudi Arabia to sentence juvenile offenders to death." It states that there is need for constant pressure to be brought to bear on the highest authorities, King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud, and the interior minister, to grant a pardon, and ask forgiveness to the family of the child.

    According to the Ahcr, Saudi Arabia has one of the highest rates of executions in the world. According to Amnesty International statistics on death sentences, at least 69 were executed in Saudi Arabia in 2009, 102 in 2008. In late 2009, Amnesty International denounced the presence of at least 141 people on death row in Saudi Arabia, including 104 foreign nationals. Migrant workers from Africa, Asia and the Middle East are the main victims.

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    See also

    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.

    13/12/2010 SRI LANKA - SAUDI ARABIA
    Sri Lanka, Muslims and Catholics together to save the life of Rizana Nafeek
    The girl has been sentenced to death in Saudi Arabia, accused of murdering an infant, son of the woman that Rizana worked for. In three mosques meetings were organized to pray and sign the "Save Rizana” petition. The signatures will be sent to the king of Saudi Arabia, hoping he will grant clemency for the girl. Since 2007, Fr. Sigamony, national director of Caritas Sri Lanka, has been working for the release of Rizana.

    Saudi Arabia another Indonesian beheaded. "Shock and grief" in Jakarta
    It is the second case in less than a week. Karni binti Medi Tarsim had been sentenced to death for killing the four year old son of her employer. Indonesian authorities once again notified after the fact. Activists and human rights groups appeal to President Jokowi, for the protection of migrant workers.

    14/07/2011 SRI LANKA - S. ARABIA
    Sri Lanka Catholic Bishops' Conference: Forgive and release Rizana from death row
    The bishops appeal to parents of infant who died, for whose alleged murder the Muslim maid is on death row, after a sham trial. Rizana Nafeek has been in prison since 2005. She was only 17 years old.

    Saudi Arabia: Indonesian migrant risks beheading
    The 40-year old Satinah Binti Djumadi is on death row for murder and theft. The execution is scheduled for April 3. At President Yudhoyono’s request, the Saudi king has already pardoned her. But under Islamic law the forgiveness of the family is needed and they want 2 million US dollars.

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