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Saturday, January 12, 2013 - 04.00 GMT

Execution of Rizana


UN expresses deeply dismay


The United Nations yesterday expressed its deeply dismay over the execution of young Sri Lankan housemaid, Rizana Nafeek, by Saudi Arabian authorities earlier this week.

"We express our deep dismay at the execution," Rupert Colville, a spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), told a news briefing in Geneva.

Ms. Nafeek was only 17 when she was charged in 2005 with the murder for the death of her employers' four-month old infant while bottle feeding. A court in Saudi Arabia found her guilty and sentenced her to death in 2007.

Nafeek was executed by beheading on January 09 in Dawadmi in Riyadh by Saudi authorities.

Extensive efforts to commute her death sentence by the Sri Lankan government failed as well as requests by human right organizations and other world bodies to spare her life went unheeded.

"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," the UN spokesperson told the reporters.

"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," Mr. Colville noted.

The Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Christof Heyns in November 2010 has sent an urgent appeal in connection with Ms. Nafeek's case.

In June 2007, previous Special Rapporteur, Philip Alston, had raised concerns about the imposition of the death penalty for an alleged crime committed when Ms. Nafeek was still below eighteen years of age.

The Spokesman noted that there is a sharp increase in the use of capital punishment in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia since 2011 and called on the Kingdom to join the growing world's movement away from the death penalty.





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Last modified: January 12, 2013.

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