Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Rizana; the continuing saga of our times

Despite well argued cases by the United Nations, Amnesty International and a slew of other organizations the Saudi law has come in the way to block all the moves to save Rizana Nafeek.
Lawyers hold that chances are slim for President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s letter, calling clemency for Rizana, having a major impact on the outcome of the episode given the nature of the Saudi legal setup. However there’s growing international pressure especially following this week’s sentence.
Needless to say the parents of Rizana, however much impoverished they are, should take the blame for sending their teenage daughter to a country which has the worst record for treatment of domestic workers. The 17 year old certainly would not have volunteered to leave her parents and go overseas as a housemaid. Along with the parents, the job agency which made a forged passport to her, Saudi authorities who got a confession under duress and failed to get her a translator, all have combined to make the life of an innocent girl one big tragedy. The adults certainly have made a child woman to pay a huge price for their follies and insensitivity.
Bottle feeding a baby is an art and as rights groups have pointed out in their petitions, even an adult can accidentally choke a child if she/he is not properly trained in the job. Surely an untrained 17 year old would not have known how to bottle feed the infant and charging her for premeditated murder, putting her behind bars, torturing her to get a confession and finally sentencing her to death – all are results of a fundamental mistake made by the parents.
As a country that has ratified Convention against Torture (CAT), Saudi Arabia would have ideally treated the minor as a torture victim. It did not happen and despite the appeal by Rizana’s lawyers in 2007, two years after the incident, the court delivered the judgment against the girl. And the person who prepared a forged passport for Rizana is yet to be identified or charged.
The growing global sympathy towards the innocent victim’s plight may exert some pressure on Saudi authorities however there’s no guarantee of an amnesty for Rizana since the move to pay ‘blood money’ too has failed.

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