SAUDI ARABIA/SRI LANKA: Clarification relating to the appeal for pardon for Rizana Nafeek

(Hong Kong, December 8, 2010) The campaign to seek pardon for Rizana Nafeek needs to be continued as there has been no change in her situation. Her file is now pending before His Royal Highness the King of Saudi Arabia who can make one of the following three decisions: 

• To pardon and release her, 

• To reconfirm the death sentence, in which case the execution will be imminent, 

• To leave the file without a decision. 

A statement which is attributed the Minister Dilan Perera has been published in the Sri Lankan media to the effect that the King of Saudi Arabia does not have the power to pardon her. This is a completely incorrect statement regarding the law in Saudi Arabia. The King is supreme and he has the power to pardon any convicted prisoner. This of course is the privilege of any head to state in any country including Sri Lanka. It is more so in a monarchy where the power of the king is absolute. 

Regarding Rizana’s situation the explanation given by her lawyers previously is as follows:

“……. the Wali al Amar has the authority to cancel the punishment. Knowing that such decision cannot be executed unless approved by Wali al Amar, this means that we can still contest this decision before the higher authorities…………”

Under Saudi law two possible options for pardon are still open. They are: 

• Pardon by the parents of the deceased child, and 

• Pardon by His Royal Highness the King of Saudi Arabia. 

Under these circumstances, speaking of the suspension of the death sentence as mentioned in the minister’s communication does not make sense. Rizana Nafeek’s death sentence was suspended when her appeal was filed. It will remain so until His Royal Highness the King confirms the death sentence. 

However, it is still within the possibilities to obtain pardon for this young girl. It is the obligation of the government to pursue negotiations with the parents of the deceased child. Unfortunately this does not seem to be taking place. Meanwhile the plea to the King needs to continue. 

The references to previous appeals are as follows: 

Statements by the AHRC: 
STM-242-2010, STM-238-2010, PRL-029-2010, STM-228-2010, STM-226-2010, STM-221-2010, STM-219-2010, STM-214-2010, OLT-011-2010, OLT-012-2010, STM-003-2009, STM-218-2009, STM-258-2008, STM-266-2008, UP-097-2007, PL-044-2007, OL-023-2007, PL-027-2007, PL-025-2007, PL-024-2007, PL-023-2007, AS-284-2007, AS-162-2007, AS-163-2007, AS-165-2007, AS-160-2007, UP-097-2007, UP-093-2007; PL-023-2007, 

Urgent Appeals by the AHRC: 
UAU-041-2010, UA-207-2007, UG-004-2007 

Forwarded articles: 
FPR-064-2010, FAT-063-2010, FAT-062-2010, FAT-061-2010, FAT-059-2010, FAT-058-2010

Document Type : Press Release
Document ID : AHRC-PRL-033-2010
Countries : Sri Lanka,
Campaigns : Save Rizana Nafeek
Issues : Death penalty,