SAUDI ARABIA/SRI LANKA: Government urged to act rapidly for the release of Rizana Nafeek
The Mothers and Daughters of Lanka, a well known human rights organisation joined with many others who are demanding the immediate release of Rizana Nafeek, a young Sri Lankan girl who has been held in a prison in Saudi Arabia for over five years, allegedly for the killing of an infant; a charge which she has denied. Globally, many organisations have joined the call for Rizana's release.
Last week some Sri Lankan ministers responded to the queries about the government's inadequate action to get the Sri Lankan maid released from the Saudi Arabian prison. One of the ministers, Rishard Bathirudeen, the Minister for Industrial Development, was quoted in the Arab News as saying that he will soon visit Riyadh with a view to contacting the parents of the deceased infant and seek a pardon for Rizana's release. Under the laws of Saudi Arabia the parents of the child have the right to pardon. The lawyers who appeared for Rizana Nafeek earlier explained that efforts will be taken to negotiate in this matter.
Meanwhile, another minister, Dilan Perera, who is now in charge of the Ministry for Foreign Employment also announced that the government is taking steps to seek a pardon from His Royal Highness, the King of Saudi Arabia. Earlier the president of Sri Lanka wrote to His Royal Highness, officially seeking pardon on her behalf.
Despite of such statements by these ministers there is as yet no visible progress in gaining pardon for this young maid. There is no mention of any date on which Minister Dilan Perera is to visit Saudi Arabia. Rizana Nafeek's parents have, on many occasions stated their frustrations about the slow progress in this case. The Sri Lankan government is under severe pressure from many organisations in the country to take more effective measures to intervene with the Saudi King as well as with the family.
The Asian Human Rights Commission has called on many occasions for the Sri Lankan government to take a more proactive role in order to seek the release of Rizana Nafeek who has already been in jail for over five years although it is quite obvious that no crime has taken place and that the infant's death was not due to any fault on her part.
An execution in Saudi Arabia can take place at any time and on previous occasions there have been Sri Lankans who had been subjected to such executions while their appeals were pending. Under these circumstances the government should demonstrate their commitment to save the life of this young migrant worker.
We reproduce below the appeal on behalf of Rizana Nafeek:
WORLD: Rizana Nafeek death sentence--concerns being expressed in Sri Lanka