UNITED NATIONS Jan 11 U.N. Secretary-General
Ban Ki-moon expressed dismay on Friday at the execution of a Sri
Lankan housemaid in Saudi Arabia over the death of an infant in
Rizana Nafeek was beheaded in the town of Dawadmy, near the
capital Riyadh, on Wednesday morning after being sentenced to
death in 2007. She was accused by her Saudi employer of killing
his infant daughter while she was bottle-feeding in 2005.
The secretary-general "is concerned about reports of
irregularities in her detention and trial, as well as the
increase in the use of capital punishment in Saudi Arabia,"
Ban's press office said in a statement.
Ban insisted that all men and women in Saudi Arabia -
regardless of their migration status or nationality - be treated
under international human rights law, which includes the right
to a fair trial.
"Currently, in Saudi Arabia, women do not have equal access
to the courts or an equal opportunity to obtain justice. The
Secretary-General is concerned that this is a situation which is
even more precarious for women migrant workers given their
foreign status," the statement said.
The Sri Lankan government appealed the death penalty but the
Saudi Supreme Court upheld the sentence in 2010. Sri Lanka said
on Thursday it had recalled its envoy to Saudi Arabia over the
The Saudi Interior Ministry said the infant was strangled
after a dispute between the maid and the baby's mother.
Saudi households are highly dependent on housemaids from
African and South Asian countries. There have been reported
cases of domestic abuse in which families mistreat their maids,
who have then attacked the children of their employers.
Saudi Arabia, a U.S. ally, is an absolute monarchy that
follows the strict Wahhabi school of Islam. Judges base
decisions on their own interpretation of sharia, or Islamic law,
rather than on a written legal code or on precedent.
(Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by Doina Chiacu)