SRI LANKA/SAUDI ARABIA: President Obama asked to intervene in Rizana Nafeek’s case with the Saudi Arabian authorities

(Hong Kong, June, 2, 2009)

As President Obama is to visit the Saudi Arabian authorities tomorrow the Asian Human Rights Commission has issued an appeal for him to intervene on behalf of Rizana Nafeek whose appeal against the death sentence has been pending for several months now.

Rizana Nafeek who was a 17-year-old girl from Sri Lanka was sentenced to death, allegedly for killing an infant whose death was, in fact, caused by choking during bottle feeding.

An appeal was filed at the last moment before the execution with the intervention of the Asian Human Rights Commission and supported by several civil society organisations. The case was handled by a well known Saudi legal firm, Al Shammari.

After consideration of the appeal the original court was requested to reopen the case. The original court at Dawadami recalled a translator who was supposed to have translated a confession allegedly made by Rizana. However, it was then discovered that the translator was not qualified and that he was no longer in the country. The case is pending due to the absence of this person.

Rizana Nafeek’s case attracted world-wide attention and the appeals of hundreds of thousands of persons have been sent to the Saudi authorities.

The intervention of the President of the United States can be of great assistance to resolve this unfortunate case which has unnecessarily dragged on, said Mr. Basil Fernando, the director of the Asian Human Rights Commission. He further said that the consistent view of the AHRC and many others has been that this was an accidental death and that the teenager, who had no experience of any sort to nurse an infant, has been unfairly accused.

This is a humanitarian issue that deserves urgent attention, said Mr. Fernando.

The updated appeal, UPDATE (Sri Lanka/Saudi Arabia): President Obama urged to take up the case of a young girl facing the death penalty during his visit to Riyadh can be found at:


For earlier statements on Rizana’s case kindly see:

Document Type : Press Release
Document ID : AHRC-PRL-027-2009
Countries : Sri Lanka,
Campaigns : Save Rizana Nafeek
Issues : Death penalty,