3 March, 2024


Rizana Executed: Rajapaksa Bears Full Responsibility For This Death


According to reports received, the Government of Saudi Arabia has executed Ms. Rizana Nafeek (1988 – 9 January 2013) today. The embassy of Sri Lanka in Riyadh has confirmed this report.

demonstrator holds an image of Rizana Fathima Nafeek during a protest in front of the Saudi Arabian embassy in Colombo, Sri Lanka, on July 8, 2011 Dinuka Liyanawatte / Reuters

Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) wishes to categorically state, that the singular responsibility for this innocent young Sri Lankan woman’s death is upon the President of Sri Lanka, Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksa. His office and the government led by him shamelessly neglected the life of this innocent Sri Lankan woman, who remained incarcerated aboard since May 2005. At the time when she was charged with the alleged crime, Rizana was only 17 years of age, and was soon sentenced to death by a Saudi court, in proceedings that the court held of which Rizana had no informed consent. The Government of Sri Lanka or the office of the President did nothing to save Rizana’s life, despite calls for assistance from Rizana’s family and from the global civil society. Passing off as concerns, the Government of Sri Lanka did nothing, except issuing valueless statements relating to this case. (photo: Rizana’s family in Sri Lanka)

All Sri Lankans should regard today as a day of shame.

Due to efforts by the AHRC, an appeal was filed and Rizana’s execution stayed this far. Despite calls for help President Rajapaksha’s government refused to pay at least the lawyers’ fee for filing the appeal.

The law relating to forced confession in Saudi Arabia is criminally wrong. The AHRC had alerted the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights about this matter repeatedly. However even the High Commissioner failed to make an effective intervention to save the life of this innocent woman.

There is no doubt that the charge of murder against Rizana is wrong. The laws in Saudi Arabia falls short of universally accepted norms concerning investigation of crimes, most importantly in this case the failure to conduct of an autopsy upon the body of the deceased person, alleged to have been murdered by Rizana. None of the fair trial guarantees were observed when Rizana was tried in the Saudi court.

All Sri Lankans and virtually thousands of people across the globe who intervened trying to save Rizana must have received the news of her execution with shock. An estimated 1.8 million Sri Lankans currently work aboard, of which 45 per cent are women.

The AHRC expresses its deepest condolences to Rizana’s family at this time of grief and shock. Despite the family doing their best to save Rizana’s life, they received no support from their government to save Rizana

So long as there is a government that does not show any care for the rights of its people, similar tragedies will be repeated in Sri Lanka.

A dossier on Rizana prepared by the AHRC could be viewed at here

Related stories;

GOSL Has Failed To Provide The Lawyer’s Fees For Rizana Nafeek Death Sentence Appeal

The Imminent Danger Of The Execution Of Rizana Nafeek


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Latest comments

  • 0


    Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe agreed with the suggestion and gave the impression he will take this forward. If India had initiated a similar move the present lot must work with India to revive this proposal, if it works out, that can bring much happiness to our workers and to the income of our near-bankrupt Govt. It must be made the duty of our “diplomats” posted in the Arab lands to work for matters such as this – and, above all, show the progress they make – via the media.


  • 0

    Sahodarar Juliyaampitiya Amaraya avarkalukku:

    Yaar enna sonnalum, ilam Rizanawai pala andugalukku mun avargalin Allahwin padham adaya seithullarkal. Riznawin thai thanthai kanneer
    kadalil ullargal. Mulu thesamum aalndha thukkathil ullathu.

    Your Tamil is good. I welcome Sinhalese and Tamils moving towards peace by speaking and respecting each others language and culture.

    Rs.3 lakhs is peanuts for the Nafeek family. The Saudis should be made to pay at least Rs.50 million to establish their piety, if there is such a thing. This amount is peanuts to them. For goodness sake, if this happens the money should go directly to the bank account of the Nafeeks. There are too many Mr …% – of more than one community -around these days to suck money even out of corpses.

    Happy New Year



  • 0

    lots of concern this rizanas case i agree
    Rizana is/was only one of many hundreds who have been victimised by the cruel,pitiless,ghouls of the middle east nations who employ ‘slaves’ from sri lanka & a few other countries for their domestic and sexual needs.
    This calls for immediate action by the Government of Sri Lanka. Some suggested actions are given below.

    1. Sri Lanka should charge a risk premium from Saudi recruiting agents, to obtain an Insurance Cover adequate to cover the immediate repatriation of any run away house maid and adequate compensation in case of death, permanent disability and the cost of any special treatment not available from government hospitals. This insurance policy should be named after Rizana Rafeek.

    2. Ban any maid less than 30 years or without experience in working in an Arab country from accepting a job in Saudi Arabia.

    3. Get the assistance of AHRC & ILO for all the countries allowing house maids to work in such Arab countries to jointly demand a Government to Government agreement covering the security and working conditions of domestic workers in these Arab Countries.

    There is an acute scarcity of female workers in our factories. The export value added by a female worker in an export oriented factory is far more than the wages of a slave working in these Arab Countries. Hence, we must control this slave trade and reduce the number of female workers seeking work in Saudi Arabia by at least 25% each year and ban this slave trade within 5 years.
    What does AHRC expect the government to do? As if Saudi’s would care about any appeal by SL. Saudi is a country floating on crude. There are countless other countries ever ready to send house maids even if SL stops sending them. Besides, can we afford to do that?

    If she was an American or UK citizen, things could have been different.

    What the government should do is put in place strict regulations to prevent this type of things in future. It is the job agencies that profit from misery and desperation of poor that should be monitored and penalized for this type of negligence.

    May she rest in peace.
    Due to efforts by the AHRC, an appeal was filed and Rizana’s execution stayed this far. Despite calls for help President Rajapaksha’s government refused to pay at least the lawyers’ fee for filing the appeal.
    its all poltical leaders not frank and honest if they are good its never happend no rulles line inbetween foriegn country before send workers they only think about their income
    say have to strong foriegn ambassor and strong rulles before take workers sponsor need registered and deposit money and human right and local country rulles of jugment cant give any out of that rules only agree allowed to have labours from country
    and monitor every month report from labours need attend embassy and give real status salary treat all, lost of them abusing ladies for thie sexual needed no one knows even not care.
    saudi not gave this case good decition thier fail so saudi king need to take seriouse action about judge and who put case its all our goverment need to take decition
    the Saudi Judges Act According to Islamic Law?

    The Rizana Nafeek case
    January 11, 2013, 7:57 pm

    By M.Haris Z Deen

    Ph.D., MBA., BSc., LLB (Hons)., FRICS

    Homicide and Bodily harm fall within the Koranic doctrine of Qisas. Homicide, according to the Islamic Shari’a falls into five categories as follows:

    Qatl amd – Intentional homicide

    Shibh amd – quasi-intentional killing

    Qatl khata’ – accidental homicide

    Majra’ al khata’- Is similar to accidental homicide, but different in nature to Qatl Khata’

    Qatl bi sabab – indirect killing.

    The above five categories are graded on a scale of intentionality. Cambridge University Prof. Wael Hallaq states that “the degree of intentionality involved is measured by external criteria, as the jurists deemed knowledge of inner motives (ma fil-batin) to be well nigh impossible”.

    This to me is the same as establishing mens rhea in common law courts when determining guilt in criminal cases. It would therefore appear that there is some similarity between the standards of proof required under common law and that under the Shari’a. In fact the standard of proof under the Shari’a is much more stringent than that required under common law principles.

    Before discussing Rizana Rafeek’s case as presented to us and without making any value judgements on the Saudi legal system let us see what the five categories of homicide define.

    Qatl amd – Intentional Killing

    This type of killing involves not only the intent to kill but also the use of a lethal weapon that is customarily used to kill. Furthermore, it must be committed by the murderer without any coercion. This is an integral element of intentionality. Anyone who kills someone under pressure from another person would not be liable to the death penalty.

    According to reports Rizana did not use any lethal weapon. Whether she killed the child intentionally is another matter and there is no evidence of any coercion. By definition the alleged offence does not fall under this category.

    Prof. Hallaq explains that “liability for punishment (in this case) is inextinguishable, giving the kin of the victim an eternal right to inflict appropriate retaliation or collect damages.

    Shibh amd – Quasi intentional Killing

    In this type of killing the element of intention to exercise violence is present but the instrument used is neither regarded as lethal nor customarily construed as a murder weapon. For example a small stick. The followers of Imam Shafi’i and Imam Hanbali hold the view that repeated beating with a stick causing the death of a person would amount to committing the act with full intent, as against causing death by striking once or twice. Similarly if someone playfully pushes another into waters infested with crocodiles without knowing the presence of those reptiles can be accused of committing a “quasi intentional” killing although it was done without any malicious intentions.

    As stated in the previous paragraph, newspaper and other reports do not indicate that the accused used any kind of weapon, neither is there any suggestion to assume otherwise. Therefore, it would appear, that Rizana’s case does not come under this heading either.

    There is no capital punishment amounting to beheading in under this category. However, compensation under this group of killing amounts to extensive blood money, unless the accused is pardoned by the victim’s family.

    Khatl khata’ – Accidental Homicide

    This is a pure accidental event such as accidentally shooting someone, while hunting game.

    If the reports are correct (and if the child had actually died in the hands of Rizana), then what actually happened is accidental death. We are told that the child had choked while being fed and the maid Razana only “stroked” the child’s throat to relieve it from choking. What resulted was unbelievable. If this was the case then it is accidental death coming under this category. There is no capital punishment of beheading in this instance and the damages are also very little.

    Majra al-khata – Similar to Accidental Homicide

    This happens when someone accidentally trips on someone or something and falls on another person killing him or her. Or when someone while being asleep rolls over someone or falls from a bed on someone asleep below resulting in the other person’s death. There is no death sentence for this offence and the damages are far less than in the case of other categories.

    This will not be applicable to Razana’s case.

    Qat bi sabab – Indirect Killing

    These are very rare incidences such as when someone is digging a well and that he did not provide any safety barriers causing someone to fall and be killed. This is also not an offence punishable by beheading and as in the case of the previous two offences the damages are also minimal.

    This will also not be applicable to Rizana’s case

    On analysis it would appear that the girl Razana Nafeek’s case falls under the category of Khatl khata’ – Accidental Homicide. I am basing assumption only on hearsay evidence. If that is the case it would appear that the Saudi Judges have erred in sentencing her to be beheaded. ALLAH KNOWS BEST.

    The question has been raised as to why the girl was kept for nearly two years in custody if she was actually guilty. It has been revealed by a Human Rights Group that the girl was kept in custody following an appeal. At the same time that the girl was a minor of 17 years at the time she committed the alleged offence will not hold good because she was an accomplice for falsifying her age by Employment Agents. These defences must fail.

    Homicide under the Islamic Shari’a is a private wrong. Prosecution takes place only upon the demand of the victim’s next of kin. Minors and the insane are exempt from punishment. Nonetheless, their next of kin become liable for financial damages. It appears from all the reports that I have read, the fact that the baby died “at the hands” of the maid, thus establishing actus rheus. According to reports the cause of death was attributed to choking and the maid had only tried to relieve the baby by “stroking” the neck. A likely story some might say, but there is certainly a degree of doubt. In my humble view, the benefit of the doubt should certainly have been given to the girl Razana. The fact that the mother of the victim had very strongly initiated the prosecution should not have prevented the Saudi government from appealing for clemency. Also did the Sri Lankan Embassy in Saudi Arabia do enough to challenge the Arabic interpretation of Razana Nafeek’s alleged confession? Apparently, the statements made by Razaa, who did not know Arabic, was translated by a Malayalee translator. There is no evidence that anybody had challenged that translation.

    Therefore, it appears that mistakes had been done by both sides. If Saudi Arabia followed the law of that country in beheading Razana Nafeek, it is their law and should not be compared with the Islamic Shari’a

    Ref: Hallaq; W.B; Shari’a – Theory Practice Transformations – Cambridge University Press (2009)
    so sl goverment take big demand take all house maid from saudi immidiately untill they give good solution and new agrment and high salary skill like other country more care about sl nationalities.
    its not enougf to explain lots
    if i want talk this metter not enouf pages to finished
    i ho[pe its never happend and sl goverment take good care of thier poeple.

  • 0

    Sharia law is correct but the way people understand it only wrong,
    if a person murder any one for that he can be punished by death that is fair, but in Rizana’s case reports proved that it’s not a murder in this case they should not have given that punishment to rizana. Rizana’s death is a murder!!!

  • 0

    Rizana Nafeek probably could have been saved if the Foreign Ministry and our Mission in S. Arabia went about their work professionally.
    As far as I know every year several offenders – many serious – are pardoned by the King on high-pressure representations.

    Sulthan Al-Ghazi, probably a Jordanian, was sentenced last year to death for killing Saudi Sheikh Khalaf Al-Shaman. But he was pardoned and released at the written request of King Abdallah. An un-named Filipino was sentenced to death for drug related offences in April 2011 but released on an appeal by the Filipino President. On both the 2 governments concerned worked hard, using their local missions well, and had their citizens released.

    Our problem is we man our Missions mostly with misfits and personnel with little efficiency at the beck and call of politicos of various parties at home. Most of our missions are manned by individuals for about 1-2 years and then replaced by others to satisfy political needs in Colombo. Result – total failure of our diplomacy.
    Every year many governments secure concessions from the Arab governments where they are located relating to their own nationals.


    • 0

      Yes true Senguttuvan,well balanced approach but still,
      without all these shuttle diplomacy,Saudis could have
      ignored their harsh sharia, in favor of a girl of
      another country which supply a considerable amount of
      labor force for their economy.Here, I as a muslim, don’t
      believe that Saudis respect the sharia for the sake of
      their strong belief in Islam.It’s a tool for suppressing
      freedom of their own people and now demonstrating their
      ability to tell the “hand to mouth” foreign lot that they are
      serious about their law of killing their guest workers.
      If theyare so serious about their babies,why not hire
      professional nannies from the West for more money?Why not
      give their precious ones a precious service?They don’t have
      the money and even if they had,they can’t buy the girls.
      You pay cheap and you buy low quality and won’t last long.

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