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Saudi Arabia beheads migrant worker Rizana Nafeek

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  • Cort Greene
    *Saudi Arabia*. The court verdicts on two prominent human rights activists, Mohammad Al-Qahtani and Abdullah Al-Hamid, have been postponed
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 13, 2013
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      *Saudi Arabia*. The court verdicts on two prominent human rights activists,
      Mohammad Al-Qahtani and Abdullah Al-Hamid, have been postponed
      indefinitely<http://globalvoicesonline.org/2013/01/13/saudi-activists-verdict-postponed/>
      .

      The court was due to rule on Wednesday.

      The two activists have been on trial since June for charges that include
      �breaking allegiance to the ruler and his successor� and �trying to impede
      the country�s developments".




      http://www.migrant-rights.org/2013/01/11/who-failed-rizana-nafeek/

      WHO FAILED RIZANA NAFEEK?

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      More Options<http://www.migrant-rights.org/2013/01/11/who-failed-rizana-nafeek/#>

      Rizana Nafeek was beheaded on January
      9<http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-20959228>,
      less than two days after a final appeal made by Sri Lankan President
      Rajapakaa<http://www.migrant-rights.org/2013/01/08/sri-lankas-president-appeals-for-nafeeks-reprieve/>.
      The several clemency appeals made by Sri Lanka, other states, and human
      rights organizations failed largely due to the disastrous interplay between
      Saudi�s flawed legal system and Sri Lanka�s miserly support for migrant
      workers.

      Saudi Arabia holds one of the world�s highest execution
      rates<http://www.amnesty.org/en/death-penalty/top-5-executioners-in-2011>,
      ranking second after China in 2011. Amnesty is granted to convicts only by
      �forgiveness� from the victim�s family. In the case of migrant workers,
      this forgiveness generally entails blond money paid out by sending-nations.
      Consequently, appeals at the diplomatic level scarcely effect the outcome
      of these cases. Instead, they serve primarily as symbolic gestures, as well
      as public �evidence� of the state�s efforts to save a national�s life.

      Furthermore, Saudi�s legal system is particularly hostile to migrant
      workers. Translators are rarely provided during judicial proceedings, which
      are conducted entirely in Arabic. Nafeek�s original confession was made
      under duress, and without the presence of either a lawyer or a translator.
      Though Sri Lankan authorities are well-aware of these conditions, �embassy
      policy� prohibits the provision of legal aid to migrants. Thus, the Sri
      Lankan foreign ministry�s claim that Nafeek�s execution occurred �despite
      all efforts at the highest level of the government and the outcry of the
      people locally and internationally� is misleading. Instead, an MP�s
      indictment that the government did little to �ensure Rizana Nafeek�s legal
      rights� more accurately reflects Sri Lanka�s conduct; the absence of any
      support mechanism for incarcerated nationals precluded the opportunity for
      a fair trial. The Sri Lankan government obviated accountability even whilst
      Nafeek�s case became a protracted, years-long affair, abandoning her
      defense to resource-limited NGOs. Only when Nafeek was sentenced to certain
      death did Sri Lanka intervene, at which point the prospect of her discharge
      was substantially diminished, dependent entirely on the procurement of
      amnesty � rather than on her innocence, or through a capable lawyer�s
      argument (which may have stressed that the death penalty would contravene
      Saudi�s obligation to the Convention on the Rights of the Child).

      Additionally, the questionable conduct of Sri Lankan
      delegations<http://www.migrant-rights.org/2012/02/09/update-on-rizana-nafeek/>
      sent
      to appeal for Nafeek�s release were heavily criticized by rights groups.
      Organizations including the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) accused
      the delegations of misleading the public regarding the status of Nafeeks�
      case. Delegation officialsrepeatedly indicated that a settlement was on the
      horizon <http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,2099272,00.html>.
      However, the family�s tribe, with whom negotiations were conducted,
      expressed a dramatically different version of events. The tribe�s leader
      angrily stated<http://www.asiantribune.com/news/2012/02/05/%E2%80%9Cahm-azwer-mp%E2%80%99s-statement-might-make-life-poor-rizana-miserable%E2%80%9D-saudi-tribal-leader>
      �that
      these kind of �diabolic lies� would only worsen the case of Sri Lanka�s
      house maid Rizana Nafeek as well as the cordial relationship of our two
      countries.� Rights groups indicated the delegations� missteps may have been
      detrimental to Nafeek�s fate.

      In the aftermath of Nafeek�s execution, the crucial question becomes: how
      can states avoid similar situations in the future? Sri Lanka may be
      inclined to ban domestic workers from Saudi, as Indonesia did following
      Ruyati Binti Sapubi�s beheading in June
      2011.<http://world.time.com/2011/06/24/after-beheading-indonesia-bans-maids-from-work-in-saudi-arabia/>
      Bans
      are intended to provoke a response from receiving nations in the form of
      new legislation and improved policies, but they have hadlittle success in
      the past<http://www.migrant-rights.org/2012/10/08/monitoring-filipino-domestic-workers-in-saudi/>.
      Bans also represent very public condemnations of Saudi policy, but they can
      actually be detrimental to workers, who often elect to migrate to banned
      nations illegally. While Saudi must address the deficiencies of current
      migrant worker policies, bans are rarely an incentive for substantive
      policy change. Other bilateral mechanisms must be explored to pressure
      Saudi to adopt essential reforms.

      In addition, Sri Lanka can begin to improve nationals� conditions on its
      own initiative. In the same way Indonesia has provided free lawyers to
      workers in Malaysia<http://www.migrant-rights.org/2012/02/27/indonesias-free-attorneys-should-be-available-in-saudi-too/>,
      Sri Lanka can create a legal defense fund to support its convicted
      nationals. Translation and attorney services can ameliorate judicial
      discrimination and prevent cases from reaching such critical phases. The
      introduction of legal support mechanisms will have a much greater and more
      immediate impact on migrant worker conditions than indefinite moratoriums.

      However, Rizana Nafeek�s ultimate legacy does not lie exclusively with
      states. Nafeek�s preventable tragedy received extensive media attention,
      both within and outside the region. Her injustice may encourage local NGOs
      to fill the systemic voids in legal and translation services, as well as to
      promote social reflection of institutional migrant discrimination. If civil
      societies in both sending and receiving nations escalate repudiation of the
      states� mistreatment of migrant workers, a critical step to improving
      migrants� reality will be initiated.


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