Migration flows to Saudi Arabia must be regulated to avoid another Rizana Nafeek
Riyadh (AsiaNews) - "The government of Sri Lanka deserted Rizana Nafeek; first, by allowing her to go to a foreign country even though she was a minor; then, by leaving her all alone to face the court without a lawyer," an anonymous Saudi source spoke to AsiaNews about the young Sri Lankan Muslim woman who was executed yesterday in Saudi Arabia for allegedly killing an infant.
Although Sri Lankan authorities expressed their condolences to the family, with parliament holding a minute of silence in her memory, Rizana's fate shows that the real problem is not the death penalty but "the trafficking of hundreds of thousands of migrant workers into the kingdom," the source said.
In her case, errors were made from the start, the source explained, beginning with her arrest in 2005 following the child's death and in 2007 when the court sentenced her to death.
"Where was the Sri Lankan Embassy in the past five, six years? A Sri Lankan national, a human being above all, was in prison. If she had received assistance right away, perhaps things might have turned out differently."
The single case aside, the problem of underage migrant workers remains. "From a Sri Lankan perspective, I do not see any good reason to allow minors to emigrate for work," the source said. "Caring for babies is a hard job and requires training. If something happens to the infant who is to blame?"
From this point of view, "the government of Sri Lanka is responsible for what happened to Rizana Nafeek." At the same time, "Saudi Arabia is also responsible for allowing a minor to come in to do a tough job."
News about children, sometimes their mothers, killed or beaten by maids, babysitters and cleaning ladies appear in Saudi media on a regular basis. "This is becoming a humanitarian issue that must be dealt with," the source explained.
Clear rules to regulate migration flows are needed. First of all, human traffickers must be identified and arrested in labour "exporting" countries likes Sri Lanka, India or Pakistan as well as in Saudi Arabia. Secondly, "Bilateral agreements protecting the rights of migrants must also be signed," the source said. "Migrants should be 21 or older and have an adequate level of education and training."
In 2011, Saudi Arabia signed a series of agreements with the Philippines in that sense.