A Sri Lankan domestic worker who was convicted of killing an infant in her care was executed by the Saudi Arabian government on Wednesday.
Rizana Nafeek was sentenced to death in 2007 for allegedly murdering a 4 month old infant in 2005 that had been in her care for two weeks. Nafeek initially confessed to the crime, but later recanted her statement saying that she was under duress at the time and did not have adequate translation assistance to understand what was happening.
The Sri Lankan government and multiple human rights organizations have condemned the execution as a violation of international law. When Rizana entered Saudi Arabia in 2005, she was provided a falsified passport by a recruitment agency that said she was 23 years old when in fact she was only 17 at the time, making her too young to be executed according to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (ratified by Saudi Arabia).
Amnesty International’s Philip Luther, Director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme, said “Despite a chorus of pleas for Saudi Arabian authorities to step in and reconsider Rizana Nafeek’s death sentence, they went ahead and executed her anyway, proving once more how woefully out of step they are with their international obligations regarding the use of the death penalty.”
Nafeek’s death is also sparking international discussion on the rights of domestic workers. According to the International Business Times, only 10% of the over 52 million domestic workers globally have protection under labor laws that protect other workers.