Saudi Arabia beheads a Sri Lankan maid

News has emerged that a young Sri Lankan housemaid Rizana Nafeek in Saudi Arabia was executed by beheading on the charge of killing a four month old baby in her care even though she was under 18 when the crime was allegedly committed, she denied that she was guilty, and had been denied access to a lawyer.

The case has sparked an international outcry against this US ally. The UK and French governments have condemned the killing but as far as I know the US government has not joined in the condemnation. Of course, it is hard for them to condemn any aspect of this other than the beheading since they too indefinitely detain people with no access to lawyers and who have died in custody, some of whom were minors, with the official cause of death being dubiously ruled as suicide, but likely because of the brutal treatment they received. But fears of charges of rank hypocrisy have not stopped the US government in the past from taking the high moral ground against the actions of other countries.

One should not overlook the class and race aspects of this heinous act. As the BBC report said, “A Sri Lankan opposition MP who campaigns for Sri Lankan workers abroad, Ranjan Ramanayake, described the Saudi government as “dictators” who would never execute Europeans or Americans, only Asians and Africans.”

The Saudis are notorious for having one of the most barbaric legal systems in the world and I was curious if they had ever exercised its most draconian provisions against westerners.


  1. baal says

    I’ve heard it said*, and not with facetiousness, that justice is the process of efficiently assigning blame and prosecuting the guilty party. The ‘and’ is intended to imply that the person assigned blame is the guilty party. Too often, it’s not that simple**.

    *variable verbiage but from judges, prosecutors and attorneys.
    **unless the patriot act is involved, in which case the it’s pretty damn simple, we’re just like the Saudis.

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