Save the life of the sri lankan domestic worker in Saudi Arabia

Contributors: Economy Next; Nisha Varia/Human Rights Watch; Maryam N.

According to the news on Dec 23, the Sri Lankan domestic worker sentenced to death by stoning in Saudi Arabia for adultery has her execution overturned after her government appealed for clemency.

Update on Dec 23:

Excerpts from various news: 

  • BBC: The life of a Sri Lankan domestic worker due to be stoned to death in Saudi Arabia for adultery has been spared, Sri Lanka’s foreign ministry says. She will instead be imprisoned, Sri Lankan Deputy Foreign Minister Dr Harsha de Silva announced.
  • Saudi Gazette: A Saudi Arabian court has commuted the death sentence passed on a Sri Lankan domestic worker convicted of adultery, the government in Colombo said on Wednesday. “We have succeeded in getting the death sentence overturned. Our concern was to make sure that the original sentence was not carried out,” Harsha de Silva, the deputy foreign minister, told reporters in Sri Lanka’s capital. “The government of Sri Lanka wishes to acknowledge and appreciate the good offices of the Saudi authorities. “The sympathy, understanding and the concern expressed, and assistance extended by many other parties is also noted and deeply appreciated.”  De Silva said the woman would now serve a “short jail sentence” but details on the exact amount of time that she would have to remain behind bars were not yet clear.
  • Global Post: Saudi Arabia has commuted a Sri Lankan woman who was sentenced to ben stoned to death for adultery to a jail sentence after an appeal by Sri Lankan authorities, Deputy Foreign Minister Harsha De Silva said on Wednesday. In a joint media briefing with the Minister of Foreign Employment, Thalatha Athukorala, De Silva said that Sri Lanka had been successful in its appeal to Saudi authorities and had the execution order withdrawn.
  • Daily Mail: Married mother of two given death penalty after her conviction in August. Unmarried Sri Lankan man convicted with her was sentenced to 100 lashes. Saudi Arabian court commuted her sentence after an appeal from Colombo. Woman would now serve a ‘short’ jail sentence, says Sri Lankan minister.

Update on Dec 8:

Excerpt from the Economy Next:

Saudi authorities have agreed to reopen the case of a Sri Lankan domestic worker sentenced to death by stoning for adultery, Deputy Foreign Minister Harsha de Silva told parliament Tuesday.

Sri Lankan diplomats met with the unidentified woman at a Saudi jail over the weekend and Colombo secured agreement to give her a fresh trial, the deputy minister said.

“Through our intervention, they (Saudi authorities) have agreed to reopen the case,” de Silva told parliament. “This can be considered a big victory. We will provide her with legal counsel.”

The woman, a 45-year-old married mother of two who has not been named, was convicted of adultery in August. She was sentenced to death by stoning, while an unmarried Sri Lankan man convicted alongside her was sentenced to 100 lashes.

Sri Lankan lawmakers from all parties have united in urging the government to secure clemency for the woman and a pardon for the man.

More information:

Saudi court to review stoning sentence of Sri Lankan woman | The Guardian
Saudi Arabia to ‘reopen’ Sri Lankan maid adultery case | BBC 
Sri Lanka Muslim Council appeals to Saudi King to pardon maid sentenced to death by stoning | ColomboPage

Update on Dec 3:

Dear friends and partners,

Thank you for signing and sharing the petition on the case of the Sri Lankan domestic worker in Saudi Arabia.

We’d like to have an update from our reliable source: the Sri Lankan domestic worker who has been sentenced to death is not slated for execution this Friday.

Our partner, Human Rights Watch (HRW) is now looking for more confirmation, that is:

  • She has been sentenced to death by a lower court, but this should be appealed and that process usually takes about a year.
  • We’ve documented at least 4-5 stoning sentences over the past few years, but none have been carried out, what is more likely is for this to be commuted to imprisonment.
  • The domestic worker is not one of the 50 scheduled for execution and not believed to be as the sentence needs to be confirmed by the Supreme Court before implementation.
  • Obviously, attention and advocacy for her case are very important because no one should get arrested or imprisoned for adultery, and she has indeed been sentenced to death by a lower court. Migrant domestic workers are particularly vulnerable to unfair processes in the Saudi legal system.

What this young woman is going through is horrific and unjust.  We should keep fighting  to pressure Saudi Arabia for her immediate and safe return to Sri Lanka.

Elizabeth Tang
General Secretary
International Domestic Workers Federation (IDWF/FITH/FITD)

Actions starting from Dec 2:


  • Saudi Arabia has sentenced a female Sri Lankan domestic worker to death by stoning for the ‘crime’ of adultery. This sentence is to be carried out Friday, but an URGENT online petition has been started to bring Saudi’s attention and bring a halt to this. 

Petition and actions:

Letters from the concerned groups:

More information:

Saudi Arabia: Stop Stoning Sri Lankan Domestic Worker – An Online Petition Launched | Colombo Telegraph
Only request can be made over maid being stoned | Sri Lanka Mirror
Saudi Arabia sentences woman convicted of adultery to death by stoning – her male partner gets 100 lashes | Independent
No Solution For Lankan Women Suffering In Saudi Arabia | The Sunday Leader
Lankan woman to be stoned to death in Saudi | Sri Lanka Mirror
Photo: Saudi Arabia : Stop Stoning Sri Lankan Domestic Worker
Source: Economy Next; Nisha Varia/Human Rights Watch; Maryam N.

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