Halt the Execution of Sri Lankan Worker Accused of Murder in Saudi Arabia

Target: Prince Mohammed bin Nayef bin Abdul Aziz, Minister of the Interior.

Goal: To halt the execution of a Sri Lankan migrant worker accused of committing infanticide when she was still a minor.

The imminent execution of a Sri Lankan migrant worker, Rizana Nafeek, in Saudi Arabia over the death of an infant in 2005 must be halted. The Saudi Interior Ministry has recently issued instructions for the execution of Ms. Nafeek following a 2010 Supreme Court ruling against Ms. Nafeek that exhausted any hope for an appeal. The only way that the execution will be halted now is by direct action by the King or by the baby’s parents. The law in Saudi Arabia states that the parents may still grant a pardon to Ms. Nafeek or seek blood money in compensation for the death of their child. The Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa sent an appeal to King Abdullah on January 6 appealing for a stay of execution until a settlement can be arranged.

Rizana Nafeek had been working for two weeks in Saudi Arabia when a baby she was looking after died after a choking accident while drinking from a bottle. She was arrested and gave a confession allegedly under duress. Ms. Nafeek has since retracted that confession. International observers found grave errors with the trial including Ms. Nafeek’s access to competent lawyers. During her first trial she was not given legal representation at all. The translator provided to the prisoner was also lacking according to reports. There is doubt among humanitarian groups that he was able to translate effectively between Tamil and Arabic. The translator has since fled the country.

There is also evidence that Rizana Nafeek was only 17 when she was arrested and not 23 as her passport indicated. A recruitment agency in Sri Lanka had altered her documents so that she would be eligible for a work visa in Saudi Arabia. The fact that she was 17 at the time of the death of the child means that it would be against international law for the death penalty to be carried out. The Convention on the Rights of the Child, to which Saudi Arabia is a party, clearly prohibits the death penalty or life sentences without parole for offenses committed before the offender is 18. Sign this petition and demand that the execution of Rizana Nafeek does not go forward.


Dear Prince Mohammed bin Nayef bin Abdul Aziz,

The execution of Sri Lankan migrant worker, Rizana Nafeek, must be halted immediately. Besides the fact that her confession and trial were both highly suspect, she was a minor at the age of 17 when the child she was watching died from a choking accident. The appeals of the international community, including the President of Sri Lanka, must be heeded and the execution orders eliminated.

Saudi Arabia is a party to The Convention on the Rights of the Child, which clearly states that life sentences without parole and the death penalty are prohibited for offenders under the age of 18. I ask that you promise to discontinue the practice of executing prisoners who committed crimes when they were children. Releasing Rizana Nafeek will be an important first step to making good on that promise.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: via Public Domain Images

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