Hejaaz Hizbullah, a prominent Sri Lankan lawyer, was arrested on 14 April 2020 and has since been detained without charge or access to a lawyer. His family believes he has been targeted for his work, including for the rights of Muslim minorities in the country. The Bar Association of Sri Lanka has said that Hejaaz’s arrest is based on work done in his professional capacity as a lawyer. Media reports suggest he could be charged under the draconian Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA).
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Mr. Chandana Depal Wickramaratne
Acting Inspector General of Police
Due to postal restrictions caused by COVID-19, please only send physical mail to the Embassy
Fax: +94 112 440440
Email: [email protected]
Ambassador Rodney Perera
Embassy of Sri Lanka
3025 Whitehaven Street NW, Washington DC 20008
Phone: 202 483 4025 I Fax: 202 232 7181
Email: [email protected]
Salutation: Dear Ambassador
Dear Mr Wickramaratne,
I am deeply concerned about the arrest and detention of Sri Lankan lawyer, Hejaaz Hizbullah, on 14 April 2020. Two weeks have passed, and he has not been informed of any charges, nor has he been granted access to lawyers, and his right to appear before a court to challenge the lawfulness of his detention has been violated. These are all violations of rights guaranteed by the Constitution of Sri Lanka and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Sri Lanka is a state party.
Mr. Hejaaz’s family is concerned about his safety, a fear heightened by his prolonged detention without charge and without access to a lawyer and believes that he has been targeted for his professional work as lawyer in various civil and political rights cases. According to international human rights law, anyone who is arrested or detained has the right to be informed of the reasons for their arrest, the charges against them and has the right to challenge the lawfulness of their detention before a court without undue delay
I urge you to release Mr. Hejaaz or, if there is sufficient evidence of criminal wrongdoing, charge him with a recognizable offense, in accordance with international standards. Pending release or charge, I call on you to ensure that his fair trial rights are guaranteed, including his unrestricted access to a lawyer and his right to challenge the lawfulness of his detention.