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