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News  


 

Justice for nailed maid

Lanka launches global appeal over Ariyawathie

By Gagani Weerakoon

The Attorney-General has assured the Sri Lanka Foreign Employment Bureau (SLBFE) that he would look into its request to seek justice through relevant international bodies for housemaid L P Ariyawathie (50) whose sadistic Saudi employer allegedly hammered 24 nails into her body during her six-month ordeal there.
The process of pressing relevant authorities in Saudi Arabia to take action against the alleged employer has already begun, a top bureau official said.
His remarks came as doctors at Kamburupitiya base hospital removed 18 out of some 26 nails hammered into Ariyawathie’s body last Friday.

“We handed over the relevant legal documents to the Attorney-General on Friday (27) and he assured to expedite the process. In fact, the Attorney-General will get back to us next week with his response on possibilities of pressing charges against the Saudi Employer,” bureau chairman Kingsley Ranawake said.
He said the medical certificates, citing her condition and all other relevant documents as well as news clips that appeared on media, had been translated into Arabic and sent directly to the External Affairs Ministry here and the Saudi Embassy in Colombo.

In addition to the legal process, Ranawake said the bureau would also take up the issue internationally.
“We are in the process of negotiating with international NGOs lobbying for human rights protection to press Saudi authorities to take action against the culprits as we believe this is a serious violation of human rights,” he added.

Rejecting allegations that Ariyawathie had to undergo these harassments due to lapses in the SLBFE’s training programmes for prospective housemaids, Ranawake said: “The programme is conducted by experienced housemaids who had worked for years successfully in the middle-east countries. There are about 30,000 people undergoing this training and not once has the SLBFE received complaints saying that the words or the booklet we give in Arabic is wrong.”

 She would also receive financial support from the SLBFE to build her house under a funding scheme that supports disabled migrant workers to set up homes.
The Foreign Ministry, meanwhile, said it had already started negotiations with Saudi authorities on the issue.
“In fact, when we raised the issue through our embassy there, the Saudi Foreign Ministry informed us to send relevant documents as well as medical reports. Accordingly, the SLBFE has submitted a file containing all the relevant documents and the Ministry will submit it to the Saudi Foreign Ministry through our mission there. We are very much involved in the process and will do our best to expedite everything,” a ministry spokesperson told The Nation.

(See Story)