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Thu 10 Jan 2013 09:11 AM

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Saudis behead Sri Lankan housemaid for infant killing

Colombo gov't appealed against death penalty upheld by Supreme Court in 2010

Saudis behead Sri Lankan housemaid for infant killing

Saudi Arabia beheaded a young Sri Lankan housemaid on Wednesday after rejecting appeals by her home country against her death sentence for the killing of an infant left in her care in 2005, Saudi and Sri Lankan authorities said.

The Saudi Interior Ministry said in a statement run by the official SPA news agency that Rizana Nafeek was executed in the town of Dawadmy, near the capital Riyadh, on Wednesday morning.

Sri Lanka's Foreign Ministry said Nafeek was sentenced to death in 2007 after her Saudi employer accused her of killing his infant daughter while she was bottle-feeding. The Saudi Interior Ministry statement said the infant was strangled after a dispute between the maid and the baby's mother.

The Colombo government appealed against the death penalty but the Saudi Supreme Court upheld it in 2010.

"President Mahinda Rajapaksa made a personal appeal on two occasions immediately after the confirmation of the death sentence, and a few days ago to stop the execution and grant a pardon to Miss Rizana Nafeek," the Sri Lankan Foreign Ministry said in a statement sent by email.

"President Rajapaksa and the government of Sri Lanka deplore the execution of Miss Rizana Nafeek despite all efforts at the highest level of the government and the outcry of the people locally and internationally over the death sentence of a juvenile housemaid," it said.

Amnesty International said the passport Nafeek used to enter Saudi Arabia in May 2005 stated she was born in February 1982, but her birth certificate states she was born six year later, which would have made her 17 at the time of the infant's death.

Saudi households are highly dependent on housemaids from African and South Asian countries. There have been reported cases of domestic abuse in which families mistreat their maids, who have then attacked the children of their employers.

Human Rights Watch condemned the execution.

"Saudi Arabia is one of just three countries that executes people for crimes they committed as children," said Nisha Varia, senior women's rights researcher for Human Rights Watch.

"In executing Rizana Nafeek, Saudi authorities demonstrated callous disregard for basic humanity as well as Saudi Arabia's international legal obligations."

Saudi Arabia, a US ally, is an absolute monarchy that follows the strict Wahhabi school of Islam and applies sharia(Islamic law). Judges base decisions on their own interpretation of sharia rather than on a written legal code or on precedent.

Amnesty International, in a statement before the execution, said that it appeared Nafeek had no access to lawyers either during her pre-trial interrogation or at her trial in 2007.

"It appears that she was herself a child at the time and there are real concerns about the fairness of her trial," Philip Luther, Amnesty International's Middle East and North Africa Programme Director, said the day before the execution.

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Abdul hafeez Sheikh 7 years ago

The house maids have no training in their country and are completely ignorant about the laws of the country in which they are going . KSA has Islamic legal system in which the punishment is given on Islamic laws . No body has shown any sympathy with the parents of the Infant who was killed . I think the countries which are earning foreign exchange by sending their people to KSa have some moral duty to send trained people to KSA . In my opinion this event has taken place due to ignorance of any professional know how . If the same was happened in West the women may have got imprisonment more than period of her life which is more worst then the death penalty

Sumedha 7 years ago

My way of thinking, Sri Lanka government completely have to stopped send employers to Saudi Arabia. All of current employers of Saudi Arabia should have to back to their mother land.

The bad thing is , She hadn't an any of opportunity to explain that,
she was not guilty.

Sri Lanka government should have to get a clear action regarding the matter

steve 7 years ago

but who knows the real truth?

Ali 7 years ago

Few months back, a Saudi woman who tortured her maid to death. She was released after being initially sentenced. What does your "Islamic legal system" have to say about that ? I am a Muslim and I know Islam does not propose releasing murderers because they are Saudi and beheading those who come from poor countries.
Do you show any sympathy with those maids who are tortured in Saudi Arabia?
There was one case where a maid had nails hammered into her, and yet all apologists were rushing to defend the Saudi employers.

mama 7 years ago

sorry to hear that in 21st century, in such a civilized world that we live in, people still get beheaded. am not defending or accusing anyone, am only wondering how can this happen? am really sorry for all of us, all..

mike DeLonghi 7 years ago

Mr. Abdul, with all respect. Does it not bestowe on the employer to make sure that domestic staff is duly trained and qualified before signing the employment contract? When did it become the responsibility of your home country to ensure that you are qualified before trying your luck abroad?

In KSA and other Gulf Countries we see something similar to modern day slavery existing. Fuelled by flawed individuals, labour agencies and the blind eye of the authorities. Basic human rights are violated and you talk of 'moral obligations' not being honoured by Sri Lanka.