Saudis Defend Maid’s Execution despite International Backlash

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The Saudi Arabian government issued a defense statement after executing last week a Sri Lankan maid for the death of an infant that was in her care.

Human rights organizations, the Sri Lankan government, the European Union and the United Nations all condemned the execution and fought for the maid, Rizana Nafeek, to have a fair trial. Nafeek was convicted in 2005 for murdering her employers’ infant son, Kayed bin Nayef bin Jazyan al-Otaibi. The employers said the maid strangled the boy after being told to bottle feed him, but Nafeek told authorities that he had accidentally choked on the bottle.

"The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia categorically rejects any interference in its affairs or in the provisions of its judiciary under any justifications," a statement carried by the official Saudi Press Agency read, according to CNN.

Despite Sri Lanka’s claims that Nafeek was only 17 at the time of the death, and therefore cannot be executed due to the International Convention on the Rights of the Child agreement, the Saudi government told the international community that her passport said she was 21 and so treated her as such.

Also, though the Saudi government claims Nafeek had the “rights to a legal defense,” human rights groups have said that she did not initially have access to a lawyer, which was when she claimed she was assaulted and threatened into signing a confession.

A third of those executed by Saudi Arabia last year (27 out of 79) were foreign migrant workers from neighboring developing countries, who likely had little understanding of their host country’s laws or legal practices.