Rizana Nafeek Is Still Waiting

I was recently wondering what had happened to Rizana Nafeek, a Sri Lankan girl who earlier this year was sentenced to death in Saudi Arabia. Her crime: she worked for a family there and was left in charge of their baby, and while it was in her care, it died.

Nafeek was a minor, a child, when this happened; she had been sent to Saudi Arabia as a maid, not a nanny, and had no childcare training. The employment agency that placed her in that household had falsified her age. She certainly did not intentionally cause the baby’s death. The baby’s family could offer her clemency, but has declined to do so. Initially, Nafeek’s case got lots of media attention, but lately, with even worse things going on in her home country (more on that in another post), she seems to have dropped off the radar of most outlets.

So what’s happened to her? Looks like she’s in the same boat as before—still in jail and waiting for an appeal. The fourth paragraph of this story suggests some outs—but honestly, I’m not quite clear what they are. “Blood money”?

I hope she gets out of jail. Either way, media outlets should cover what happens to her. But it looks like months after her incarceration, her story is losing its trendiness. One of the moments when I am frustrated with journalism. (Not to mention the lack of coverage for all the other stuff going on in Sri Lanka. But like I said, that’s another post.)

4 thoughts on “Rizana Nafeek Is Still Waiting

  1. Peter

    The baby’s family obviously is trying to divert their own guilt. Rizana Nafeek is an innocent scapegoat for not caring for their own child and dropping the responsibility on an untrained maid.

    What were they doing that was more important when they left the baby in her care?

    They should pardon her and set her free.

  2. Manel Fonseka

    I frequently check the Net (specifically Arab News & Asian HRC) for a verdict about Rizana. The wait seems endless–how much worse for her. And, yes, I am also sad that our press appears to have lost interest in her case. Moreover, I have yet to discover a local, Sri Lankan, organization that has taken a serious interest in it. One civil society organisation (NGO) that specializes in the law, was rumoured to be monitoring the case, but on contacting them for information they merely invited me to see their file of Sri Lankan press clippings!

    Of course, there is so much tragedy and conflict around us that maybe one more case cannot occupy us for long after its news value has been exhausted.

    Maybe someone here could find how we can at least send Rizana supportive messages – letters, cards. In any one of our languages.


  3. Manel Fonseka


    I think part of my last reply to yr mail to me got deleted, explaining how we finally deciphered the bad reporting of the ARAB NEWS report about the fresh objections. So please return whatever to recd from me so I can check it was complete.

  4. manel fonseka

    You can see the latest (very disturbing) development in poor Rizana’s case


    I check ARAB NEWS at

    regularly, about the case. Our local newspapers (Sri Lanka) also carry these reports but nothing else to indicate much concern for this poor girl.

    The most recent report seems to dash the faint hopes raised by an earlier decision of the father to forgive Rizana. I cannot believe that her fate may hang on what will amoun t to hearsay ultimately.

    Soon very dear friends of mine will be going to Mecca – as will millions of others. Their money will go to swell the coffers of the mediaeval govt whose legal system leaves much to be desired…to say the least.

    This is a heartbreaking case.


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