New York: Saudi Arabia should halt the execution of a Sri Lankan domestic worker convicted of killing a baby in her care in 2005 when she was 17, Human Rights Watch said Wednesday.
According to Sri Lankan government sources, Saudi Arabia`s interior ministry has issued instructions for Rizana Nafeek`s execution.
Under the system of `qisas` (retaliation) that governs murder cases in Saudi Arabia, the baby`s parents may still grant Nafeek a pardon or seek blood money in compensation.
"The Saudi king and interior minister should immediately cancel the execution orders against Nafeek," said Nisha Varia, senior women`s rights researcher at Human Rights Watch.
"Saudi officials should then meet with the baby`s family and Sri Lankan authorities to make sure the death penalty won`t be considered again."
Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa sent an appeal to King Abdullah Jan 6 requesting a stay of the execution until a settlement can be reached between the baby`s family and a Saudi reconciliation committee.
Nafeek had been working in Saudi Arabia for two weeks in 2005 when the `Utaibi family`s four-month-old baby died in her care.
Nafeek retracted a confession that she said was made under duress, and says the baby died in a choking accident while drinking from a bottle. Authorities have incarcerated Nafeek in Dawadmi prison since 2005.
Nafeek had no access to legal counsel until after a court in Dawadmi sentenced her to death by beheading in 2007.
International law prohibits the death penalty for crimes committed before the age of 18.