EU monitoring Rizana’s case

The European Union (EU) says it is monitoring the case of Sri Lankan maid, Rizana Nafeek, who is on death row in Saudi Arabia.

In a written response to a question posed to the European Parliament on Rizana, EU High Representative and Vice President Catherine Ashton said that discussions about human rights issues and individual cases between the EU and local authorities take place regularly using all suitable channels and the EU makes full use of these opportunities to convey appropriate messages to Saudi Arabia.

“According to the Saudi authorities, Ms Nafeek’s case is not yet closed. The EU will continue to follow it very attentively, in close coordination with the authorities of her home country, Sri Lanka,” the EU quoted Ashton as saying.

Meanwhile the government has launched a fresh bid to secure the release of a Rizana Nafeek.

Foreign Employment Minister Dilan Perera said that a delegation had visited the grandparents of an infant who the Sri Lankan maid has been accused of killing.

Nafeek, was sentenced to death in 2007 by a Saudi court after being found guilty of killing her employer’s baby.

The murder had taken place in 2005 but Nafeek, who was 17 at the time, maintains her innocence and claims the baby’s death was accidental.

Perera said that Nafeek’s execution had been suspended despite the death sentence being issued in 2007 following an appeal by Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

He said that since then several attempts had been made to seek pardon from the family of the victim and a fresh attempt has now been made by a delegation sent to Saudi Arabia.

The Sri Lankan authorities have yet to obtain the pardon of both parents of the victim in order to secure the release of the maid on death row.

A foreign employment agent in Sri Lanka was arrested and charged last year for sending Nafeek to Saudi Arabia for employment by altering her age and using forged documents. (Colombo Gazette)