WORLD: AHRC makes the initial deposit of the legal fees for the appeal of Rizana Nafeek against the death sentence in Saudi Arabia
(Hong Kong, July 11, 2007)
'As the deadline for the filing of the appeal, which is July 16, is approaching rapidly, and as the Sri Lankan government has not lived up to its obligation of defending the rights of its citizens to a fair trial by providing funds for the appeal, the Asian Human Rights Commission has deposited the initial legal fees for the filing of the appeal, which is Rs. 1.5 Million, the equivalent of Saudi Riyals (SAR) 50,000 with the firm of Kateb Fahad Al-Shammari, Attorneys at Law. We hope that this firm can now proceed to file the papers before the deadline,' stated Mr. Basil Fernando, Executive Director of the Asian Human Rights Commission.
Mr. Fernando further stated that the AHRC is doing this on behalf of the many groups and persons who have taken an active interest in this appeal and who want to assist.
He further stated that payments were made after receiving a letter from the Honourable Ambassador for Sri Lanka in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, which stated as follows:
I refer to the letter from AHRC dated 9th July on the above subject.
I forwarded the letter immediately to the Foreign Ministry in Colombo and sought their advice. The Ministry has informed that there is no objection to the AHRC undertaking the legal expenses to file the judicial appeal on behalf of Sri Lankan national Rizana Nafeek, who has been sentenced to death by the Dawadami High Court last month. The Ministry has further instructed this Mission to facilitate this endeavour.
Fernando further said that although this action was taken in order to prevent the desperate situation that might arise in the event of the non filing of the appeal, the failure of the Sri Lankan government to live up to its obligations towards the basic protection of its migrant workers in the Middle East and elsewhere, needs to be questioned and the government should be pressurised into changing its policy relating to such protection.
Fernando went on to say that it is tremendously depressing and counterproductive to read some of the statements attributed to ministers of the government and published in several Sri Lankan newspapers. Some of these statements have referred to the payment of blood money for the family of the deceased infant. In fact, at no stage has there been any request from this family for any such payment. These statements regarding blood money are not based on fact and are pure fabrications. In fact, such statements can be extremely counterproductive to the appeals made by thousands of persons from around the world to this family to grant pardon to the teenager on compassionate grounds. A large number of appeals have been sent to the Sri Lankan embassy in Riyadh to be presented to the family. An appeal has also been made to the Muslim scholars across the globe to make their intervention in this case on the basis of compassionate understanding.
The Asian Human Rights Commission encourages everyone to participate in the campaign against the death sentence of Rizana Nafeek.
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