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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2836

More Sri Lankan women faces jail terms and death sentence in Saudi Arabia

Colombo, 27 January, ( Two Sri Lankan migrant workers including a Muslim woman and her husband, a migrant worker from India, have been sentenced to death in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Along with them five more Sri Lanka migrant workers, the list includes two Sri Lankan women, were sentenced to 5 years imprisonment with 500 lashes each.

The High Court of Jeddah confirmed its sentence delivered on 11 June 2007 and handed over the written verdict to the accused persons on 20 January 2008.

These persons were arrested in November 2005, accused of armed robbery and killing an elderly Saudi Arabian woman called Mariam, in Jeddah.

A Sri Lankan mother, Halemma Nissa Cader, K.M.S. Bandaranaike and Naushad, an Indian national, were found guilty and condemned them to death by the High Court of Jeddah on charges leveled against them of armed robbery and the murder of an old woman in Jeddah.

Halemma Nissa Cader is a mother of an eight year old son. She is from Trincomalee and married to Naushad an Indian national from Tamil Nadu. She lived with her husband and child in Jeddah at the time of her arrest.

It is still unclear whether Indian Government has taken any action on behalf of Naushad, the husband and father of the child of Sri Lankan Halemma Nissa Cader.

K.M.S. Bandaranaike another Sri Lanka migrant worker from Kurunegala is married to Henelle Menike, living in their native village in Kurunegala.

Furthermore, following 5 Sri Lankans migrant workers were sentenced to five years imprisonment and 500 lashes each.
They are:

1. Singarayar Calithar Wimalathas from Trincomalee
2. Abdul Basheer Mohamed from Mathurankuli, Puttalam
3. Amir Jabbar from Sammanthurai
4. Rismiya Abdul Haq from Kanatalai and
5. Manickam Kulanthaivel Rosa from Kalmunai.

Rismiya Abdul Haq and Manickam Kulanthaivel Rosa, are Sri Lankan women.

According to Abdul Lateef Lafir, Sri Lanka’s Consul General in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, the written verdict delivered to the accused persons by the High Court of Jeddah, has been notified to the Foreign Ministry of Sri Lanka.

Consul General talking to “Asian Tribune” said that his consulate has received official sentencing document in Arabic language and it has been sent for legal translation.

Abdul Lateef Lafir said that they have decided to take necessary action to appeal against the High Court verdict, as the appeal has to be filed within 30 days from the date of the deliverance of the written verdict to the accused persons.

He further added that they have decided to approach the National Society for Human Rights in Jeddah, a Saudi human rights organization for their assistance and help to file appeal against the conviction.

Sri Lanka Consul General further said that the five accused who have been sentenced to five years imprisonment and 500 lashes each have expressed fear and reluctance to file an appeal, as the son of the old lady Mariam, who was killed in an armed robbery, was heard saying that the High Court ruling of granting them lesser sentences of five years imprisonment and 500 lashes. It was further said that the slain lady's son has said that they too deserved to be sentenced to death instead of imprisonment.

Sri Lanka Consul General said that those five persons are afraid that sometime the Jeddah Supreme Court might change the original sentence and deliver death sentences according to the wish of the slain lady’s son.

Amnesty International has already criticized the verdict delivered by the Jeddah High Court and accused Saudi authorities of imposing death sentences on two more Sri Lankans and an Indian without a proper judicial procedure. "They have had no legal assistance at any time, even during trial and are believed to have confessed under duress," a statement issued by the AI said.

Saudi authorities have carried out at least 103 executions, during the year 2007. Death sentences are usually carried out by beheading. Amnesty International further accused Saudi authorities of imposing death sentences without a proper judicial procedure.

Earlier, in February 2005, a four-month-old baby choked on milk and died. That earned Rizana Nafeek, a teenager of Muthur, Sri Lanka, a death sentence on June 16, 2005, for allegedly committing murder. An appeal has been filed in the Supreme Court.

Furthermore on 19 February 2007, four Sri Lankan migrant workers on an allegation of armed robbery were beheaded in Saudi Arabia. They were, Ranjith de Silva, Victor Corea, Sanath Pushpakumara, and Sharmila Sangeeth Kumara.

Meeran Mohamed Jiffry, Labor Attache , in the Consul General’s office in Jeddah told “Asian Tribune” that there are around 450,000 Sri Lankan migrant workers in Saudi Arabia and 80% of them are women.

Dr. Keheliya Rambukwella , Minister of Foreign Employment Promotion and Welfare and Government Spokesperson for Defence and National Security, who was attending an international migrant workers conference in Abu Dhabi when contacted told Asian Tribune that his ministry has received information about the verdict issued by the High Court of Jeddah and has sought the assistance of the Saudi National Human Rights Society. He assured that he would do everything possible to appeal against the conviction in this case.

Hussain Bhaila, the Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs is expected to be in Jeddah by 1 February and is expected to finalize the course of legal action on the appeal against the written verdict delivered by the High Court of Jeddah. Deputy Minister confirmed to Asian Tribune that his ministry too has been notified of the delivery of the written judgment by the High Court of Jeddah and would be in Jeddah to consider the course of action to safeguard the lives of Sri Lankans, who are condemned to death in Saudi Arabia.

- Asian Tribune -

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