"We are heartbroken and devastated to recieve news of the outrageous and unjust beheading of Rizana Nafeek.
Our hearts go out to her family and loved ones."
Chris Crowstaff - founder, Safe World for Women - 9th January 2013
Sri Lankan immigrant maid sentenced to be beheaded in Saudi Arabia. A baby in her care choked to death & Rizana was accused of murder. Rizana was 17 at the time, couldn't speak the language & had an unfair trial...
UPDATE Jan 2013:
Rizana at risk of imminent execution!
UPDATE OCT 2012
Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa to take part in first Asian Corporation Dialogue Summit in Kuwait on 16 and 17 of October. According to Migrant Rights, the President’s office has indicated an intention to broach Rizana's case.
UPDATE - August 2012
UPDATE - January 16th 2012
Two foreign employment
sub agents who are alleged to have sent Rizana Nafeek to Saudi Arabia for employment were sentenced to two years rigorous imprisonment and ordered to pay Rs.60,000 each as compensation to her parents.
The Attorney General indicted the suspects for helping to send Rizana Nafeek with the use of a forged birth certificate to Saudi Arabia to work as a housemaid.
UPDATE - November 19th 2011
A press release by the secretariat of the Sri Lankan Western Province Governor said there is some progress and they hoped they could obtain Rizana's release before long.
UPDATE - November 15th 2011
Rizana had an emotional meeting with her parents.
UPDATE - September 14th 2011
The two suspects in the Rizana Nafeek alleged human trafficking case who are in remand were further remanded until September 26 pending the filing of Charges against the suspects by the Attorney General.
UPDATE: August 8th 2011
Sri Lankan news reports that Rizana is likely to be formally pardoned and brought home 'very soon'.
A ministerial delegation from Sri Lanka is said to be in Saudi Arabia attending to the formalities.
UPDATE: June 16th 2011
The newly obtained signed statement of Rizana Nafeek of Muthur, Sri Lanka, the housemaid who is now languishing in the Death Row in Saudi Arabia has shed new light in her case and how her case was badly handled by the Sri Lankan Embassy Officials in Saudi Arabia, as well as by the lawyer who has been retained on her behalf.
According to the available information, Rizana Nafeek , retracted her confession at the court hearing, on 3rd February 2007, and informed the court that her original confession admitting to the killing of the child had been obtained by the Police under duress.
The Asian Tribune is now in possession of the new statement prepared in the Tamil language by the Sri Lanka Embassy in Saudi Arabia
UPDATE: June 14th 2011
The Sri Lankan government is ready to pay any amount of money as 'blood money' to rescue Rizana Nafeek... said Foreign Employment and Welfare Minister, Dilan Perera, addressing a press conference at the Central Bank.
UPDATE: April 2011
Mother's pardon pending
Sri Lanka Foreign Employment Bureau (SLFEB) Additional General Manger L K Ruhunage said the Bureau has not given up its diplomatic effort to save Rizana Nafeek, the 20-year-old Sri Lankan housemaid facing execution in Saudi Arabia.
Rizana can only be released if she was granted a pardon by the child’s parents, said SLFEB sources.
The father of the child has reportedly expressed his willingness to pardon Rizana. The mother’s decision is still pending, they said.
UPDATE: 3rd December 2010
Asian Human Rights Commission:
"The Asian Human Rights Commission has reliably learned that Rizana Nafeek's appeal has reached the critical stage as her file, which was pending before the External Affairs Ministry has now been handed over to the office of His Royal Highness the King of Saudi Arabia for his Majesty's final decision.
The decision could be 1) to pardon her and order her release, 2) to confirm the court's verdict which would mean immediate execution, 3) to freeze the file, which means that the file will not be decided upon indefinitely.
His Royal Highness the King can make any one of these decisions at any time. If the decision is an adverse one the execution will be imminent.
For those who wish to intervene with his Royal Highness the King to seek pardon for Rizana Nafeek now is the time."
26th October 2010, the Asian Human Rights Commission issued a press release containing the following alarming information:
The death sentence has been confirmed in the case of a young Sri Lankan Muslim girl, Rizana Nafeek. She was charged with strangling the 4-month-old child of the family for whom she worked as a housemaid.
She was legally allowed only 30 days from the date of the court order to make her appeal. An appeal was made on her behalf by the intervention of human rights groups who paid for the lawyers and her death sentence was set aside pending appeal.
ABOUT RIZANA NAFEEK
Rizana Nafeek was born on February 4, 1988 and comes from a war-torn, impoverished village.
Here, many families try to send their under aged children for employment outside the country, as their breadwinners. Some employment agencies exploit the situation of the impoverished families to recruit under aged girls for employment.
For that purpose they engage in obtaining passports by altering the dates of birth of these children to make it appear that they are older than they really are. In the case of Rizana Nafeek, the altered date, which is to be found in her passport now, is February 2, 1982.
It was on the basis of this altered date that the employment agency fixed her employment in Saudi Arabia and she went there in May 2005.
She went to work at the house of Mr. Naif Jiziyan Khalaf Al Otaibi whose wife had a new-born baby boy. A short time after she started working for this family she was assigned to bottle feed the infant who was by then four months old.
Rizana Nafeek had no experience of any sort in caring for such a young infant. She was left alone when bottle feeding the child.
BABY STARTED CHOKING - RIZINA PANICKED
While she was feeding the child the boy started choking, as so often happens to babies and Rizana Nafeek panicked and while shouting for help tried to sooth the child by feeling the chest, neck and face, doing whatever she could to help him.
At her shouting the mother arrived but by that time the baby was either unconscious or dead. Unfortunately, misunderstanding the situation the family members treated the teenager very harshly and handed her over to the police, accusing her of strangling the baby. At the police station also, she was very harshly handled and did not have the help of a translator or anyone else to whom she could explain what had happened.
FORCED TO SIGN A CONFESSION
She was made to sign a confession and later charges were filed in court of murder by strangulation.
On her first appearance in court she was sternly warned by the police to repeat her confession, which she did. However, later she was able to talk to an interpreter who was sent by the Sri Lankan embassy and she explained in her own language the circumstances of what had happened as stated above. This version was also stated in court thereafter.
SENTENCED TO BEHEADING
According to reports, the judges who heard the case requested the father of the child to use his prerogative to pardon the young girl. However, the father refused to grant such pardon. On that basis the court sentenced her to death by beheading. This sentence was made on June 16, 2007.
The said murder allegedly took place in February 2005 when Rizana Nafeek was only 17 years old. Sources said she had modified her age on her passport so that she could enter Saudi Arabia to work. Accordingly, she was still considered a minor by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Child.
PARDON RIZINA NAFEEK
Rizana Nafeek's case is now before an advisor to his Royal Highness the King who has the power to pardon her.
There is good reason to grant her a pardon as no real crime is involved when a 17 year-old girl with no experience has to bottle feed an infant and as a result there is an accident by way of the infant choking.
At the initial stages of the case the accused young girl did not have legal representation or any assistance from her Embassy and did not even have a proper translation of what was going on. This tragedy which has been taken up as a crime should not lead to another tragedy of a young girl being beheaded for no crime at all.
PLEASE DO ALL YOU CAN TO SHARE THIS PETITION WIDELY!
Please sign the petition to Sri Lanka President Mahinda Rajapakse to request that he does his utmost to continue to appeal to His Royal Highness, King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud, to save Rizana Nafeek.
Copies will also be sent to H.E. Mr. Ahmed A. Jawad (Sri Lanka Ambassador to Saudi Arabia) and Bandar Mohammed Abdullah Al-Aiban (President, Human Rights Commission, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia).
- President, Human Rights Commission, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Bandar Mohammed Abdullah Al-Aiban
- Sri Lanka Ambassador to Saudi Arabia
H.E. Mr. Ahmed A. Jawad
- Socialist Democratic Republic of Sri Lanka C/- Office of the President
President Mahinda Rajapakse
I am writing this to request your urgent intervention to save the life of a young Sri Lankan Muslim girl, Rizana Nafeek, a migrant worker who is facing the death sentence in Saudi Arabia. I understand that the matter has been brought to your notice since 2007.
As you are aware, an appeal was made on Rizana Nafeek's behalf for which the lawyer's fee was paid by human rights organisations and the Embassy personnel arranged the lawyers. After the appeal the Embassy personnel informed that they were following up the case before the courts. The appeal was pending for a long time as the sole witness who allegedly took the confession from the then 17-year-old Rizana Nafeek was missing. To our knowledge the court was unable to locate him. However, the Arab News Agency reported that the court had confirmed her death sentence.
As per the letter to you from the Asian Human Rights Commission in August 2012:
'On the very first occasion that she was able to, on the 30th of January 2007, she submitted an affidavit to court in which she completely denied the charges and explained the circumstances in which the death of this child took place. Her letter has now been published. From all that has been published in this case, throughout these few years, it is quite clear that there was no murder involved in this case; the murder was never proved in the courts of Saudi Arabia. It is well established that there was no post-mortem into the death of this baby. In addition, based on a publicized medical opinion from a Swedish doctor, there is no proof of murder involved in this case....
Clearly the Sri Lankan government has the support of the international community in pursuing this matter, not merely as a matter of clemency but also as a matter of serious violations of international law'
The situation is becoming increasingly urgent. The strain of being on death row, for so many years, will be having a major impact on the emotional health of this young girl.
I implore you to renew efforts to do your utmost to save the life of this young Muslim girl who went to work in a foreign country because of dire poverty.
Safe World for Women started this petition with a single signature, and now has 4,379 supporters. Start a petition today to change something you care about.