Sri Lanka President Asks Saudi King to Prevent Execution of Housemaid

The president of Sri Lanka has made a personal appeal to King Abdullah seeking royal intervention to suspend the execution of Rizana Nafeek, a housemaid who was sentenced to death in 2007 for killing the baby she was entrusted to look after in the absence of her Saudi employers in the town of Dawadmi, Saudi and Sri Lankan media reported.

In his letter to Saudi King Abdullah, Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa said the maid was only 17 years old at the time of the incident. “I understand that the maid is soon to be executed since the aggrieved parents are not in favor of a pardon,” the president said in his letter, according to Arab News. The president asked the king to defer the execution until an amicable settlement is reached between the parents of the child and the reconciliation committee who have been engaged in negotiations.

According to the Saudi legal system, Nafeek can only be saved if pardoned by the child’s family. The pardon can be offered with or without a request for blood money. International rights groups have urged Saudi Arabia prevent the execution and grant pardon to Nafeek.

“It would be outrageous if Rizana Nafeek were to be executed for this,” said Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Program Director. “It appears that she was herself a child at the time and there are real concerns about the fairness of her trial.”

Amnesty said that Saudi Arabia, as a state party to the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), is prohibited from imposing the death penalty on persons who were under 18 years old at the time of the offense for which they were convicted.