Government condemns, Parliament mourns Rizana’s death

Parliament today mourned and the government, including President Mahinda Rajapaksa deplored the execution of Sri Lankan housemaid Rizana Nafeek in Saudi Arabia.

A statement by the External Affairs Ministry said that President Rajapaksa and the Government of Sri Lanka deplore the execution of Rizana Nafeek despite all efforts at the highest level of the government and the outcry of the people locally and internationally over the death sentence of a juvenile housemaid.

Separately in parliament this evening Minister Dilan Perera said that the government did it’s best to save the girl.

Both government and opposition members, in an unprecedented move, also observed a minute silence over the death of the girl.

The Saudi Arabian Interior Ministry confirmed that Nafeek was executed on the charges of killing the baby in her care.

President Mahinda Rajapaksa made a personal appeal on two occasions immediately after the confirmation of the death sentence and a few days ago to stop the execution and grant pardon to Miss RizanaNafeek.

The External Affairs Ministry said that the Government of Sri Lanka pursued all avenues to have Rizana Nafeek released from the death row and sent several Ministerial delegations that included the recent visits of Minister of External Affairs Prof. G. L. Peiris, Minister of Foreign Employment Promotion and Welfare, Dilan Perera, the delegation led by Governor of Western Province, Alawi Moulana, religious leaders and senior officials of the Ministry of Foreign Employment Promotion and Welfare and the Ministry of External Affairs.

The Government of Sri Lanka had also arranged for the parents of Nafeek to visit Saudi Arabia twice in 2008 and 2011 to see their daughter and also to perform Umra to pray for her release.

Rizana Nafeek was executed in Saudi Arabia today, the External Affairs Ministry said.

Politician Ranjan Ramanayake, who was campaigning for her release, told the Colombo Gazette that protests will be held in Colombo against the execution.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) had said earlier today that Saudi Arabia’s Interior Ministry under Prince Mohammed bin Nayef bin Abdul Aziz had issued instructions for Rizana Nafeek’s execution.

President Mahinda Rajapaksa had sent an appeal to King Abdullah on January 6, 2013, requesting a stay of the execution until a settlement can be reached between the baby’s family and a Saudi reconciliation committee.

Nafeek had been working in Saudi Arabia for two weeks in 2005 when the ‘Utaibi family’s 4-month-old baby died in her care. Nafeek retracted a confession that she said was made under duress, and says that the baby died in a choking accident while drinking from a bottle. Authorities have incarcerated Nafeek in Dawadmi prison since 2005.

The Government of Sri Lanka arranged for an appeal against the death sentence with the assistance of the Asian Human Rights Organization based in Hong Kong but the Superior Court of Saudi Arabia reconfirmed the death sentence.  (Colombo Gazette)