Saudi job agents also plead for Rizana

By Leon Berenger

The Saudi Arabia National Association for Recruitment Companies Organisation (SANARCO) that has strongly advocated a ban on the recruitment of domestics workers from Sri Lanka has, however, pleaded that a pardon be given to housemaid Rizana Nafik who faces the death penalty, officials said yesterday.

SANARCO which is a branch of the Council of Saudi Chambers had responded to a written request by its counterpart in Colombo, the Association of Licensed Foreign Employment Agencies (ALFEA).
ALFEA Secretary Faizer Mackeen said SANARCO head Saad Al Baddah had confirmed that they would have discussions with the highest authorities to seek clemency for Ms. Nafik, who has been sentenced to death for allegedly killing her employer’s child.

ALFEA in a letter sent to SANARCO said the young maid was not mature enough and may have had willfully or wrongfully committed a crime without knowing its gravity and therefore it sought a lesser punishment.

Foreign Employment Bureau Chairman Kingsley Ranawaka said he too had appealed to both SANARCO and the Saudi Council of Chambers seeking clemency for Ms. Nafik. Meanwhile a senior External Affairs Ministry official said quiet diplomacy was currently taking place in several world capitals in regard to this case.

There are some positive developments but it will take more time for favourable results, he said.
According to the official, Saudi King Abdullah has also instructed palace officials to hold talks with Ms. Nafik’s employer in this regard. In terms of the Shariah law in Saudi Arabia, the family of the dead child must agree to a pardon being granted.

This came after President Mahinda Rajapaksa made a direct appeal to the Saudi monarch. Ms. Nafik was sentenced to death by the Kingdom’s highest court for the alleged murder of a toddler in her care.

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