Rights Groups, EU Officials Condemn Saudi Execution

Photo Credit: Ishara S.KODIKARA/AFP/Getty Images

On Wednesday, Saudi Arabia executed Rizana Nafeek, a Sri Lankan maid convicted of killing the infant she was caring for in 2005. Nafeek was 17 when the incident occurred, and she was tried and sentenced. She spoke no Arabic but was reported to have admitted committing the crime before she retracted the statement claiming physical duress. She said the baby accidentally choked while drinking.

Human rights groups and foreign officials condemned the execution. Philip Luther of Amnesty International said, “Despite a chorus of pleas for Saudi Arabian authorities to step in and reconsider Rizana Nafeek’s death sentence, they went ahead and executed her anyway, proving once more how woefully out of step they are with their international obligations regarding the use of the death penalty.” Nisha Varia at Human Rights Watch said, “Rizana was just a child herself at the time of the baby’s death, and she had no lawyer to defend her and no competent interpreter to translate her account. Saudi Arabia should recognize, as the rest of the world long has, that no child offender should ever be put to death.” Catherine Ashton, the E.U.’s foreign affairs head expressed “dismay”, while U.K. Foreign Office Minister Alistair Burt condemned the beheading. On Thursday, Sri Lanka, which had appealed to Saudi Arabia to stay the execution, withdrew its ambassador. When asked on Wednesday, the U.S. Department of State had no comment.

On Tuesday, Amnesty International reported that Saudi Arabia still appeared to be detaining at least 11 women that were originally arrested on January 5th for protesting against the continued detention of their relatives. Luther said that “According to reports and photos from the protest, these women and children merely gathered peacefully and held placards bearing their detained relatives’ names and the length of their detention.”