Petition Call

Dec 12, 1007 (LBO) – A charity working to free a teenaged Sri Lanka maid on death row in Saudi Arabia has called for renewed public petitions for clemency amid fears that her sentence may be upheld despite an ongoing formal appeal.

The Asian Human Rights Commissions (AHRC), which funded a legal appeal for Rizana Nafeek with money from well-wishers, say Saudi Arabian courts place a heavy emphasis on confessions.

Rizana was 17 years old at the time when she was accused of murdering a four month old baby and those working to free her say she was ignorant of Saudi procedures and confused by language though police said she had 'confessed' to murder.

AHRC says she was originally sentenced on the basis of the 'confession' despite later explaining that she was trying to bottle feed the infant without any assistance from any adult and the child choked which resulted in the death.

"There was no intentional killing and she had only been working in the household for just a few days before the incident happened," AHRC said.

"However, the original court sentenced her to death on the basis of the confession she made at the police station as under this system, such confessions are given greater weight than any subsequent

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