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Last updated: 03 July, 2007 - Published 13:57 GMT
 
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"Appeal has to be done soon"
 
The family of Rizana Nafeek of Mutur­; the young girl facing death sentence by beheading in Saudi Arabia says they have no means to contribute to the appeal.

They have sought legal assistance of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for her appeal.

She still has time for filing an appeal which has to be done soon, says Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC)

This family belongs to the lower income group and is totally unable to meet the cost of litigation which according to Sri Lankan Embassy sources in Saudi Arabia amounts to about Rs. 600,000, AHRC said.

No means to appeal

The father of Rizana Nafeek has met Foreign Ministry officials in Colombo and has already explained to them that the family does not have means to contribute to this appeal.

The AHRC while drawing the attention of the Foreign Ministry of the plight of the yough woman urge them to take all appropriate actions to ensure that she will be provided with legal assistance to enable her to file this appeal.

"We also urge you to review any rule, regulation or policy that may exist obstructing the granting of protection owing to such a citizen", AHRC in a letter to the Foreign Ministry said.

Representations made

The AHRC said that they also understand that the Sri Lankan embassy in Saudi Arabia has already made representations to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs requesting funds to enable filing of this appeal.

The AHRC says there also seems to be good grounds for appeal since the entire case had been conducted in a language not understood by her and also without any meaningful interpretation provided to her.

"She had also not been legally represented at the trial. She is also quite young and is said to have left for employment a few months ago when she was only about 17 years of age. Furthermore the totality of evidence against her is supposed to be a confession which she had later withdrawn", AHRC said

In a foreign country under such circumstances and being of such young age, it is quite possible that she may have made the confession under duress, the AHRC further said.

Appeal to intevene

Even at this late stage, the Government of Sri Lanka owes it to this young Sri Lankan citizen to rapidly intervene and assist her says AHRC.

According to interviews in the media, it appears that what prevents granting her legal redress is some rule, regulation or policy that seems to deny legal assistance by the Sri Lankan Government to Sri Lankans migrating to other countries who are accused of criminal charges added the AHRC.

"there is no legal basis to withdraw the protection that the government of a particular country owes to its citizens in this manner", its said.

 
 
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