The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay today condemned the execution of Sri Lankan housemaid Rizana Nafeek in Saudi Arabia.
Rizana Nafeek, who arrived in Saudi Arabia from Sri Lanka to work as a housemaid in 2005, was charged with the murder of her employers’ baby a week after her arrival.
Despite a birth certificate that allegedly showed she was a minor at the time of the baby’s death and repeated expressions of concern from the international community, she was convicted of murder, sentenced to death and beheaded.
“We are deeply troubled by reports of irregularities in her detention and trial, including that no lawyer was present to assist her in key stages of her interrogation and trial, that language interpretation was poor, and Ms Nafeek’s contention that she was physically assaulted and forced to sign a confession under duress,” Rupert Colville, the spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said.
On 1 November 2010, the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Christof Heyns, sent an urgent appeal in connection with Ms. Nafeek’s case. In June 2007, his predecessor Philip Alston had already raised concerns about the imposition of the death penalty for an alleged crime committed when Ms Nafeek was still below eighteen years of age.*
“We note with great concern the sharp increase in the use of capital punishment in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia since 2011. The High Commissioner strongly supports the global movement away from the death penalty. She was pleased that a clear majority of Member States (111) recently voted for General Assembly resolution 67/176, which calls for a moratorium on the death penalty. We call on the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to join the growing world’s movement away from the death penalty,” Colville said.