GENEVA -- The United Nations human rights office expressed its "deep dismay" on Friday over Saudi Arabia's execution of a young Sri Lankan housemaid accused of killing a child, a sentence carried out despite concerns about flaws in the conviction process and numerous international appeals for clemency.
Saudi Arabia beheaded the woman, Rizana Nafeek, on Wednesday for the death of a 4-month-old infant in her care in 2005, when she was 17 years old, below the age that the death sentence can be applied, according to international law. She was either 24 or 25 at her death.
"We are deeply troubled by reports of irregularities in her detention and trial," Rupert Colville, the spokesman for the United Nations's top human rights official, Navi Pillay, told journalists in Geneva, drawing attention to reports that Ms. Nafeek had had limited access to lawyers and interpreters and that her confession had been forced.
Human rights groups say she did not have access to a lawyer until after a court had sentenced her to death in 2007, and no autopsy was conducted to determine the infant's cause of death.
Mr. Colville also expressed concern at the sharp increase in executions in Saudi Arabia in the last three years, rising to 79 in 2012 from 82 in 2011 and 27 in 2010.
The United Nations protest followed statements by Britain and France on Thursday condemning the execution. "We also find the practice of beheading particularly cruel and inhuman," said Alistair Burt, a minister in the British Foreign Office.
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.