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23 May 2024

Lankan maid on Saudi death row hangs on for hope of life

By Correspondent

We are waiting for the green signal from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Embassy in Sri Lanka to tell us what would be final verdict of Rizana Nafeek who killed a Saudi child while she was a domestic maid in Saudi Arabia in 2007,” Sri Lanka’s Bureau of Foreign Employment (SLBFE) Chairman Amal Senalankadhikara told Emirates 24|7.

The maid is currently in jail where she has been for the past seven years after her conviction.

“So far we have not get any news from the Saudi embassy here,” he said.

When asked about Justice Minister Rauff Hakeem who has spoken to the Saudi ambassador in Sri Lanka regarding Rizana, the chairman said, “Yes I heard, but we are not 100% sure as the embassy has not announced about her release.”

He added, “The parents of the girl have approached us, the embassy and the justice ministry and we have inquired several times, but yet we have not got a positive answer.”

“We don’t know how the minister handled it, but we have not been informed of any progress on the matter as yet from the Saudi embassy in Sri Lanka.”

“The SLBFE, the Saudi embassy, Western Province Governor Alawi Moulana and the Justice Minister took up the matter several times.

“It seems the husband is willing to pardon Rizana but the mother of the child who was killed by Rizana is not. So there are issues pertaining to these matters and the embassy should bring us the good news about Rizana future.”

The Daily Mirror reported last week that the Saudi Arabia Ambassador in Sri Lanka, Abdulaziz bin Abdulrahman Al Jammaz, had said to Minister of Justice Rauff Hakeem that according to information received by the ambassador, Rizana Nafeek who is presently on death row in Saudi Arabia would be pardoned and could return to the island, in consideration of a request made to the Saudi King by Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

The ambassador was replying to a question posed by the minister about whether the request of the Sri Lankan President and the various documents submitted could be made use of to obtain the release of Rizana Nafeek.

The ambassador had also said that he was aware that the President of Sri Lanka and the government had striven hard to obtain a pardon for Rizana and stressed that, on the instructions of the Saudi King; the governor of Riyadh had begun discussions with the relatives of the child who had died at the hands of Rizana.

The ambassador had promised to intervene personally in this regard.

Rizana Nafeek was sentenced to death on June 16, 2007, by a three-member Bench at the Dawadmi High Court for killing the baby she was entrusted to look after in the absence of her Saudi employers at home.

The accused maintained that the newborn choked during bottle-feeding and that she tried to seek help.

In August last year, the Royal Court forwarded the case of Nafeek for an amicable settlement with the Saudi parents of the child she was convicted of killing.

The Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment (SLBFE) in the new year aims to drastically reduce the number of women migrating overseas as housemaids as a measure to minimise the social and cultural problems in society.

The SLBFE says it plans to reduce the number of women migrating as domestic aides by 80 to 90 per cent by 2020.

(Home page image courtesy Shutterstock)


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