EU writes to Sri Lankan authorities over Hizbullah’s detention

The European Union (EU) has written to Sri Lankan authorities with regards to the detention of lawyer Hejaaz Hizbullah.

The EU delegation in Colombo tweeted saying the EU has written to the Sri Lankan authorities to express deep concerns about the detention of lawyer Hizbullah under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA).

The International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) had last month called upon the Sri Lankan authorities to respect human rights in the conduct of their investigation of the 2019 Easter Sunday bombings, including ensuring that investigations into the alleged involvement of Sri Lankan lawyer, Hejaaz Hizbullah, are conducted in accordance with due process and fair trial guarantees under international law.

As ICJ advocates for due process under int. law, we reiterate need to review counter-terror legislation to bring it in line with SL’s int. human rights obligations,” the EU tweeted today.

Hizbullah was arrested by the Criminal Investigation Department of the Police (CID) on April 14, 2020 pursuant to the PTA and has since been kept in detention.

No reasons were provided at the time of the arrest. During a media briefing, a police spokesperson stated that he was arrested as a result of the evidence found against him during investigations into the 2019 Easter Sunday bombings.

The ICJ understands that no remand or detention orders authorising his continued detention had been served even after the lapse of 72 hours as required by Sections 7 and 9 of the PTA.

Moreover, Hizbullah was only granted limited access to legal counsel on April 15 and 16, under the supervision of a CID official, who had insisted that the conversation be in Sinhala, in breach of attorney-client privilege. (Colombo Gazette)