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16th November 2011

RIYADH: A Sri Lankan housemaid who has spent the last six years on death row in Saudi Arabia had an emotional meeting with her parents in Riyadh on Tuesday.

The visit took place as frantic efforts continue to secure clemency for 23-year-old Rizana Nafeek from the parents of the infant who was killed in her care.

Tuesday’s meeting was the first between Nafeek and her parents following her death sentence on June 16, 2007.

The Sri Lankan government officials described the situation as "a delicate affair."

“Take me home,” Nafeek cried when she met father Mohammed and mother Rifana at a Dawadmi jail. The trio embraced each other.

"Almighty Allah should help us get back our child," said Rifana after the brief visit. During the meeting, the mother told her daughter that the time to take her back to Sri Lanka would come soon.

Legal experts in the Kingdom say Nafeek can only be saved if pardoned by the victim’s family.

The parents were accompanied by social worker Dr. Kifaya Ifthikar who works in a private hospital in the capital. Ifthikar thanked the prison authorities for giving the opportunity to the parents to see their daughter in jail. “Nafeek looks fairer, physically strong and healthy,” she said.

According to Ifthikar, the parents first visited Nafeek in jail five years ago, soon after she was arrested.

Meanwhile, the Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment (SLBFE) Chairman Kingsley Ranawake, External Affairs Ministry Additional Secretary Ibrahim Sahib Ansar and Mohammed Sheriff Mohammed Thowfeek, a Sri Lankan member of parliament who works in Nafeek's constituency, have arrived in Riyadh to follow up Nafeek's case. The country’s Western Province governor Alavi Mowlana is expected to arrive in the capital on Wednesday to lead the team.

The team will try to meet the parents of the victim and the tribal leader to seek a pardon for Nafeek on humanitarian grounds.