An international human rights group yesterday called on the government to conduct a full probe in the case involving Sri Lankan housemaid Rizana Nafeek, who is on death row in a Saudi jail.
Rizana has been in jail since 2005, after being convicted on a charge of strangling her employer’s infant during a milk feed. She has appealed against the death penalty.
The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) claims the conviction was carried out without a post-mortem on the victim, and that the Sri Lankan mission in Riyadh should have brought the matter up at the time, when the case was in progress.
The AHRC says the housemaid signed a statement two years after the incident, saying she was forced to admit to the killing after being beaten up by the local police, and that she signed a confession under duress.
The AHRC claims the Sri Lanka mission in Riyadh was aware of the affidavit, but did not make it public.
Foreign Employment Minister Dilan Perera said the government was ready to provide the compensation money in exchange for the release of the maid.
“One parent of the dead child has pardoned the maid, but this is not enough. Both parents must agree if the maid is to be released,” Mr. Perera said.
Several rights groups have appealed to the Saudi monarchy to intervene on behalf of the housemaid, while Sri Lankan envoys in several foreign capitals have engaged in diplomatic efforts towards this end.
The Saudi Arabia National Association for Recruitment Companies Organisation (SANARCO), which has called for a total ban on domestic workers from Sri Lanka, has also pleaded on behalf of the housemaid Rizana.