January 10, 2013 07:31 pm
Sri Lanka has recalled its Ambassador in Saudi Arabia with immediate effect to express the country’s displeasure over the execution of Sri Lankan house maid Rizana Nafeek.
Rizana Nafeek, a Sri Lankan domestic worker convicted of killing a baby in her care in 2005 when she was 17 was executed yesterday.
It was earlier reported that the Saudi Arabia’s Interior Ministry under Prince Mohammed bin Nayef bin Abdul Aziz has issued instructions for Nafeek’s execution.
Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa also sent an appeal to King Abdullah on January 6, 2013, requesting a stay of the execution until a settlement can be reached between the baby’s family and a Saudi reconciliation committee.
Nafeek had been working in Saudi Arabia for two weeks in 2005 when the Utaibi family’s 4-month-old baby died in her care. Nafeek retracted a confession that she said was made under duress, and says that the baby died in a choking accident while drinking from a bottle. Authorities have incarcerated Nafeek in Dawadmi prison since 2005.
Human Rights Watch interviews with Sri Lankan embassy officials and reporting from Arab News found serious problems with Nafeek’s access to lawyers and competent interpreters during her interrogation and trial. Nafeek had no access to legal counsel until after a court in Dawadmi sentenced her to death by beheading in 2007.
In 2010, Saudi Arabia’s Supreme Court upheld Nafeek’s conviction and death sentence, exhausting all judicial remedies unless new evidence emerges.
International law prohibits the death penalty for crimes committed before the age of 18. A recruitment agency in Sri Lanka altered the birthdate on Nafeek’s passport to present her as 23 so she could migrate for work, but her birth certificate shows she was 17 at the time. The High Court in Colombo, Sri Lanka later sentenced two recruitment agents to two years in prison for the falsification of Nafeek’s travel documents.