EU human rights Ambassadors concerned over incarceration of Hizbullah

Human rights Ambassadors in Europe have called on the Government of Sri Lanka to respect human rights defenders.

Eight European human rights Ambassadors issued a joint statement on the unlawful detention of prominent Sri Lankan human rights activist and Attorney-at-Law Hejaaz Hizbullah.

The Ambassadors said they remain deeply concerned by the continued incarceration of Hizbullah since April 2020.

“We regret to note that after ten months of detention, Hizbullah is now being accused of speech-related offenses under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) and other laws,” they said.

The eight Ambassadors for human rights pointed out that Hizbullah is a leading advocate of the rights of people from minority communities, including Muslims in Sri Lanka, and a vocal critic of discriminatory policies.

It is observed that the role of human rights defenders is crucial to the protection and promotion of human rights in a country. Governments have a special responsibility to protect human rights defenders, and prevent their persecution, they said.

The European human rights Ambassadors said they join with the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, and special procedures mandate holders, in urging the Government of Sri Lanka to respect human rights defenders, such as Hejaaz Hizbullah.

The human rights lawyer has been held at the Criminal Investigation Department headquarters in Colombo since his arrest on 14 April 2020, with restricted access to his lawyers, family and wife.

Hizbullah was arrested on charges of allegedly “aiding and abetting” one of the bombers involved in the 2019 Easter Sunday terror attacks.

Many, including the European Union, Amnesty International, and nearly 150 lawyers in Sri Lanka had raised concerns over Hejaaz Hizbullah’s detention under the PTA without sufficient evidence.

In February, Attorney General (AG) Dappula de Livera directed Inspector General of Police (IGP) C.D Wickremeratne to report facts on the case linked to Hizbullah.

On 3rd March, Hizbullah and the principal of a Madrasa School Mohammed Shakeel, were ordered by the Fort Magistrates Court to be further remanded till 18 March. (Colombo Gazette)

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