Update Alert: KSA – Rizana Nakeef confesses under duress

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Islamic Human Rights Commission

02 February 2010

Update Alert: KSA – Rizana Nakeef confesses under duress

1. Summary
2. Background

1. Summary

In October 2009, Rizana Nafeek, the 22 years-old Sri Lankan housemaid, stated that she made her confession under duress. She also claimed that the police tortured her in the police station. Basing upon Miss Nafeek’s forced confession, in 2007 a Saudi court sentenced her to death. The court ruled that she was guilty of murdering the four-months-old baby of the family whom she worked for as a housemaid.

Additionally, Miss Nafeek claimed that the court had not provided her a competent translator during the early stages of the trial. The translator, Saibo, was a shepherd who had no formal qualification and was not fluent in the Tamil language.

Miss Nafeek was tried in Dawadmi before a three-member bench headed by Chief Justice Abdullah Al-Rusaimi. The High Court of Riyadh will later decide on the next course of action when they receive the case.

2. Background

Rizana Nafeek was a teenage Sri Lankan girl who migrated to KSA in order to work and support her family. She had arrived to the country on an altered passport that misstated her year of birth as 1982. This was in violation with the Sri Lankan and international laws on trafficking minors. A Saudi family employed her to take care of their infant son; however she had not received training for the post.

On 22 May 2005, the infant choked on the milk that Miss Nafeek was feeding him and subsequently died. Ms Nafeek was immediately handed over to the police and was reported to have “confessed her crime”. Later on she was sentenced to death. She retracted her confession in court on 2nd February 2007 and has filed an appeal against the sentence.

The police torture of Miss Nafeek is a blatant violation of the Convention against Torture (CAT) that Saudi Arabia ratified on 23 Sep 1997. The Saudi authorities should honour its international human rights obligations, particularly to CAT, so that no one in detention is subjected to torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. Furthermore, the authorities should swiftly launch an independent and impartial public inquiry into the torture claims of Miss Nafeek. Saudi Arabia is also a state party to the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), which prohibits the execution of juvenile offenders. Thus, passing a death sentence against Miss Nafeek is another breach of International Human Rights
The torture claims impairs the integrity of the court decision against Miss Nafeek. Therefore, the entire trial should be questioned and possibly restarted.

For further information including previous IHRC alerts on the case of Rizana Nafeek, please visit the following links:

Alert: Sri Lankan Teenager Facing Miscarriage of Justice in Saudi Arabia (https://www.ihrc.org.uk/activities/alerts-archive/8528-Alert-Sri-Lankan-Teenager-Facing-Miscarriage-of-Justice-in-Saudi-Arabia)
Alert Update: Saudi Arabia – Trial continues for Sri Lankan girl on death penalty (https://www.ihrc.org.uk/activities/alerts-archive/8465-Alert-Update-Saudi-Arabia-Trial-continues-for-Sri-Lankan-girl-on-death-penalty)


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