HONG KONG, June 2. -- The Asian Human Rights Commission has appealed to US President Barack Obama, who is visiting Saudi Arabia tomorrow, to intervene on behalf of Rizana Nafeek, whose appeal against the death sentence has been pending for several months.
Rizana Nafeek, a 17-year-old girl from Sri Lanka, was sentenced to death, allegedly for killing an infant whose death was, in fact, caused by choking during bottle feeding.
Above is a picture of Rizana Nafeek, from Amnesty International Canada website
An appeal was filed before the execution following the intervention of the Asian Human Rights Commission, supported by several civil society organizations. The case was handled by a well known Saudi legal firm, Al Shammari.
After consideration of the appeal, the original court was requested to reopen the case. The original court at Dawadami recalled a translator who was supposed to have translated a confession allegedly made by Rizana. It was then discovered that the translator was not qualified and that he was no longer in the country. The case is pending due to the absence of this person.
Rizana Nafeek's case attracted world-wide attention and the appeals of hundreds of thousands of persons have been sent to the Saudi authorities.
The intervention of the US President can be of great assistance to resolve this unfortunate case, which has unnecessarily dragged on, said Mr. Basil Fernando, director of the Asian Human Rights Commission. He added that the consistent view of the AHRC and many others has been that this was an accidental death and that the teenager, who had no experience of any sort to nurse an infant, has been unfairly accused.
This is a humanitarian issue that deserves urgent attention, said Mr. Fernando.
The updated appeal, UPDATE (Sri Lanka/Saudi Arabia): President Obama urged to take up the case of a young girl facing the death penalty during his visit to Riyadh can be found at: http://www.ahrchk.net/ua/mainfile.php/2009/3164/