News from Saudi Arabia – Please appeal to save the life of this innocent woman….

Islamic Human Rights Commission

23 June 2011

Action Alert: Saudi Arabia –Take action to save Rizana’s life from execution

1. Summary
2. Background
3. Action required
4. Sample letters

1. Summary

Rizana Nafeek lost her appeal against the death sentence for the death of an infant she was taking care of. The decision is currently being reviewed by the advisor of King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia for ratification.

IHRC urges all campaigners to write their local MPs asking them to raise this case with their country’s Minister of foreign affairs, to put pressure on their Saudi counterparts to grant clemency for Rizana Nafeek.

2. Background

Rizana Nafeek, 22 years old, was charged with strangling the 4 month old infant of the family for whom she worked as a housemaid in Dawadmi city.

Sri Lankan Muslim Ms Nafeek is detained facing the death penalty for allegedly strangling Naif Jiziyan Khalaf Al-Otaibi’s four-month-old son.

She came to Saudi when she was 17 years old to work for al-Otaibi household in Dawadmi as a maid. A week after she arrived she was assigned to look after the four month old baby, without any training and in addition to her daily duties.

While bottle feeding the baby, he started choking on the milk. Nafeek shouted for help; however by the time the mother arrived the baby fell unconscious.

Rizana was taken to the police where the family of the baby claimed that she committed a premeditated murder. She was tortured in the police station and was made to confess, under duress, which she later retracted.

Her torture as a child and a juvenile is against the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child which had been ratified by the Saudi Arabian government.

She was denied access to her lawyer during her pre-trial interrogation.

Kateb el-Shammari, who was appointed by the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) to defend Nafeek, doubted the credentials of the translation of Rizana’s confession in to Arabic. Translation was made by a Tamil speaking, Saibo, who left the country and cannot be located now.

Nafeek was indicted and found guilty of the alleged death of an infant in 2005. The verdict was later endorsed by the Supreme Court in Riyadh and a death sentence was given.

In June 2007, Nafeek was sentenced to death by a three-member panel of judges headed by Abdullah al-Rosimi , Chief Justice of Dawadmi High Court.

In September 25, 2010, Nafeek’s death sentence was upheld by Riyadh’s Supreme Court after losing her appeal against the death sentence. The decision is now being referred to the Interior Ministry and Council of Ministers which is headed by King Abdullah of Saudi, who can either approve the death sentence or grant her amnesty.

Nafeek’s lawyer told IHRC: “Amnesty can be granted by the King of Saudi, who presides the Council of Ministers, or by al-Otaibi, family of the deceased infant”.

Sri Lankan President, Mahinda Rajapaksa has written an appeal to King Abdullah of Saudi requesting him to spare the life of Nafeek.

3. Action required

Write to the your local MPs urging them to intervene in this matter and to raise it with the Ministers of Foreign Affairs in their country to impose pressure on their Saudi counterparts to release Rizana Nafeek. UK Campaigners will find the appropriate details provided in the link below.

4. Sample letters

A sample letter is given below for your convenience. Please note that model letters can be sent directly or adjusted as necessary to include further details. If you receive a reply to the letter you send, we request you to send a copy of the letter you sent and the reply you received to IHRC. This is very important as it helps IHRC to monitor the situation with regards to our campaigns and to improve upon the current model letters. It is preferable that letters be sent via post, or otherwise by fax and/or email.


b) Your local MP. UK Campaigners can contact their local MPs via this link (

[Your name]
[Your address]


[MP’s address]

Dear [name],

Re: Saudi Arabia – Clemency for Rizana Nafeek

I am writing to request that you act urgently to prevent the execution of Rizana Nafeek who received the death sentence on 25th September, 2010 by Riyadh’s Supreme Court in Saudi Arabia. She lost her appeal for the death of a baby, the son of Naif Jiziyan Khalaf Al-Otaibi. Ms Nafeek maintains that it was an accident and she has no motives whatsoever to kill a baby. In fact she had only been in the country less than a month when the tragic death occurred.

Ms Nafeek was taken to police where the family of the baby claimed that she committed a premeditated murder. She was tortured in the police station and made to confess, under torture…

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