Protesters call for release of maid

Concerns mount over fate of Rizana Nafeek who is due to be beheaded in Saudia Arabia

Protesters call for release of maid
Protesters demanding release of Rizana Nafeek in front of the embassy of Saudi Arabia in Colombo reporter, Colombo, Sri Lanka

June 30, 2011

Protesters gathered outside the Saudi Arabian embassy in Colombo on Tuesday and yesterday to demand the release of a young Sri Lankan maid who is due to be executed for allegedly killing a baby in her care. Rizana Nafeek was sentenced to death in October 2010 after being found guilty of killing the four-month-old baby of her Saudi employer in 2005. She was 17 years old at the time of the alleged killing and had only just arrived in the country on a fake ID that put her age at 23. Her death sentence was approved by the Saudi Dawadmi high court, but was later suspended by the Saudi king following a request made by President Mahinda Rajapaksa earlier this year. The sentence will remain suspended until confirmed by the king, who is to review her case very soon. Another option for a reprieve would be for the parents of the dead child to pardon Nafeek, which is allowed under Sharia law. However, concern is mounting after the recent beheading of a female Indonesian domestic worker. Activists at the embassy protests, organized by parliamentarian Ranjan Ramanayake and the Lak Vanitha Front, said the Sri Lankan government should be doing more to secure Nafeek’s release. "It is the obligation of the government to pursue negotiations with the parents of the deceased child," said Anula Fernando, a Christian rights activist. The Foreign Employment Promotion Ministry says the government is doing all it can through negotiations and is prepared to pay any amount of “blood money” to the parents of the dead child. The government also dismissed reports in the Indian media that said Saudi authorities had decided to go ahead with the execution Related reports Catholic wants Saudi maid investigation