PRESS RELEASE

:

09.01.2013

We learn with great sadness the decision of executing Rizana Nafeek, rejecting all appeals for clemency. Rizana was born and brought up in a family that was struggling in poverty in the Eastern Province of Sri Lanka. It was only the desperate desire to take her family out of poverty that made Rizana, then a minor, to go to Saudi Arabia as a maid. At the time she entered into employment she was an under-aged girl completely unfit to be entrusted with the task of looking after a four month old baby. We find it shocking that any parent would have entrusted his child to the care of another child. The unfortunate incidents that led to the death of the infant child are, in our view, a direct result of the negligence of the parents who entrusted their infant to the care of Rizana, while she was employed in cooking and cleaning for the parents. In these circumstances we express shock and dismay at the failure on the part of the infant’s parents to take responsibility for their action and pardon Rizana – an option that was available to them under Islamic law and which option of pardoning is strongly encouraged in the Quran. Whilst the Holy Quran provides for the implementation of the death penalty for murder, treating murder as an offence against the entire community, the circumstances of the infant’s death clearly do not amount to murder under well known principles of Islamic Shariah. In any event it is the Shariah that provides for pardoning even the guilty at the instance of the victim’s kin and states that forgiveness is better than punishment. The Holy Quran furthermore, urges in Verse 15:85 to overlook (any human faults) with gracious forgiveness. Thus we see the implementation of the death penalty as going against the spirit and the letter of Islamic law. In fact the execution also brings to light another instance of the selective implementation of Saudi laws, for it is curious how an unmarried young female unaccompanied by a male, was permitted to enter, live and work in a country that insists on females entering Saudi Arabia to be accompanied by a male within the prohibited degree of marriage. We express our deep disappointment and disbelief that the parents of the infant whose death Rizana was held responsible for, did not avail the Quranic provisions of mercy and forgiving overlooking the negligence if any of this poor and youthful worker and also the Saudi Arabian Government for maintaining a regime with regard to migrant labour that does not meet any standards set out in Islamic Shariah law and international laws. The Muslim Council of Sri Lanka representing 102 premier Muslim organisations in the country wish to appeal to the Saudi authorities to release a copy of the judicial proceedings for Sri Lankan experts to study and advise all those seeking employment in Saudi Arabia to be well advised on how to avoid similar situations in the future. In this moment of extreme grief our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Rizana Nafeek and we pray that Almighty Allah give them solace and grant Rizana Jennathul Firdouse.

N.M. Ameen President – Muslim Council of Sri Lanka

S.A. Asker Khan Secretary– Muslim Council of Sri Lanka