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To The Sri Lankan Ambassador to Saudi Arabia

An Open Letter to His Excellency the Sri Lankan Ambassador to Saudi Arabia

The Asian Human Rights Commission has sent the following letter to His Excellency the Sri Lankan Ambassador to Saudi Arabia. We encourage others who are concerned with the life of Rizana Nafeek to communicate with the Ambassador and support him in order to achieve this objective.

H.E. Mr. Ahmed A. Jawad,

Ambassador

Embassy of Sri Lanka

Your Excellency,

SRI LANKA: Open letter to the Ambassador in Saudi Arabia regarding the appeal for pardon for Rizana Nafeek

As you are well aware the fate of Rizana Nafeek, the young Sri Lankan Muslim girl facing the death sentence is very much in your hands as the Ambassador for Sri Lanka, as you are on the ground there relating to this case. The lawyer who was arranged by your Embassy to represent Rizana for whom we paid the fees wrote to us last week stating thus:

"..........we want to assure you that we are still doing our best in this case and are not sparing any effort, and this is being done in coordination with the Sri Lankan Embassy in Saudi Arabia, with many concerned Saudi Arabian officials hoping to get the parents of the deceased to withdraw their claim. And when blood relatives accept to withdraw their claim, then her punishment will be cancelled. On the other hand, the Wali al Amar has the authority to cancel the punishment, knowing that such decision cannot be executed unless approved by Aali al Amar, which means that we can still contest this decision before the high authorities."

According to this letter the lawyer has told us that they are working in "coordination with the Sri Lankan Embassy in Saudi Arabia, with many concerned Saudi Arabian officials hoping to get the parents of the deceased to withdraw their claim. And when blood relatives accept to withdraw their claim, then her punishment will be cancelled." However, a news item which appeared in a reputed web publication, the Sri Lanka Guardian yesterday quoting a source from your embassy gives an entirely different impression:

When contacted he wanted us not to mention his name. He said, that it is not allowed according to Saudi custom to talk directly to the affected family, "as this country was not like America or Sri Lanka".

The version given by this spokesman for your embassy vary with that of the statement of the lawyer to the effect that "in coordination with your embassy, efforts are being made to get the parents of the deceased to withdraw their claim".

As the life of a young Sri Lankan citizen depends on the actions that you are able to take to successfully negotiate a pardon from the affected family, the statement made by your spokesman is quite disheartening. It is therefore the right of the Sri Lankan public to know from you the actual situation in this matter and the manner in which you are handling this most sensitive issue.

We urge you to take the following steps immediately.

1. To request assistance through your ministry from the Attorney General's Department to have the have the assistance of a senior counsel to discuss with the Saudi lawyers and take appropriate action to ensure that proper legal representation is made to the advisor to His Royal Highness the King of Saudi Arabia who is looking into the issue of pardon that his Royal Highness is entitled to grant.

2. With proper clearance from the ministry take the issue of negotiations with the family on the issue of their pardon and request from the Sri Lanka government whatever resources you need for achieving this objective.

3. Ensure proper communication to the concerned persons including the family of Rizana Nafeek on the developments regarding this case candidly and in a spirit of accountability as required from a public servant representing the state.

We assure you our continued support for this important work. We hope you will be able to prove your diplomatic skills in the handling of this important matter.

Thank you.

Yours sincerely,

Basil Fernando

Director

Policy & Programmes

Asian Human Rights Commission, Hong Kong

For further information on this case please see:

SAUDI ARABIA/SRI LANKA: An Appeal to the Muslim World to save the life of Rizana Nafeek, a young innocent Sri Lankan girl facing the death sentence in Saudi Arabia

ENDS

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