Authorities in Saudi Arabia say they will press ahead with plans to publicly execute a maid who is accused of killing a baby. Rizana Nafeek, who is either 17 or 23 years old depending on who you believe, says that the baby choked while in her care and that she did everything she could to try to save it. But that’s not good enough and she is to have her head cut off with an axe in a public space.
Risana Nafeek is from Sri Lanka. She arrived in Saudi Arabia in 2005. She says she was born in 1988, although the authorities there say she was born in 1983. There have been suggestions that she initially claimed to have been born in 1983 in order to be allowed to work in the country, since she would have been deemed too young if she had given her real age. The baby died in 2005, just a few weeks after she started work, and she was sentenced to death in 2007. The sentence is finally due to be carried out this year.
Human rights groups have rushed to pledge their support for Rizana Nafeek. They have called on other governments to put pressure on Saudi Arabia to stop the execution. But Saudi Arabia has a history of such cruel punishments and is highly unlikely to pay any attention to the west. After a number of years in which various appeals have been tried, it looks highly likely that the Saudi government will finally put Risana Nafeek to death in the next few weeks.