RIYADH: The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) is to seek the United Nations High Commissioner s intervention in resolving the case of a Sri Lankan maid who has been in prison since 2005 on allegations that she murdered a Saudi baby in her care.
The last hearing of Rizana Nafeek was held on Dec. 21 last year and was postponed until Jan. 19, but the case has still not come up for hearing, said AHRC Executive Director Basil Fernando, speaking from Hong Kong.
Fernando said the commission is receiving enquiries from across the world as to why the maid is still in prison and why a verdict has not been issued.
Fernando said it seems there is no case to answer since the police interpreter who translated the maid s statement and who is the prosecution s main witness has left the Kingdom on final exit.
Fernando urged the Sri Lankan mission in Riyadh to take further action on the matter.
The maid was initially convicted of murder at Dawadmi High Court. The AHRC then appealed the case through the Sri Lankan Embassy in Riyadh. The law firm of Khateb Al-Shammary was assigned to deal with the case for SR150,000.
Fernando said that the commission has already paid Al-Shammary SR100,000 and that the remaining balance will be cleared when the final verdict is given in the maid s favor.
In the last hearing in Dawadmi, Chief Justice Abdullah Al-Rosaimi ordered police to bring the interpreter who translated the maid s statement to the next hearing, which was supposed to be held in January.
In the court s last hearing, Nafeek told judges that she confessed to the murder under duress, fearing for her life after being assaulted.
Nafeek is appealing the death sentence and says the baby choked while being bottle-fed. However, the baby s parents maintain she killed the child.
Nafeek was brought to the Kingdom to work as a housemaid on a passport that falsely stated her age was 23 when, according to her birth certificate, she was only 17, something that is a violation of the Kingdom s labor laws and international human trafficking laws.
Nafeek came to the Kingdom on May 4, 2005, three months after her 17th birthday, to work for Naif Jiziyan Khalaf Al-Otaibi in Dawadmi, 390km west of Riyadh.
Dr. Kifaya Ifthikar, a social worker who visits Nafeek in jail, told Arab News that the maid is desperate to return home. -