Hejaaz Hizbullah granted confidential access to counsel
According to information we have received, a Sri Lankan Attorney General has agreed to grant detained human rights lawyer Hejaaz Hizbullah confidential access to his lawyers for the first time since his arrest on 14 April 2020.
Mr. Hizbullah was arrested by the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) on 14 April 2020 and placed under a detention order by the President of Sri Lanka, purportedly under Sri Lanka’s Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA). No reasons for the arrest were provided to Mr. Hizbullah or his family at the time of the arrest. It has been reported that the detention order says that Mr. Hizbullah is being investigated for allegedly “aiding and abetting” the Easter Sunday bombers and for engaging in activities deemed “detrimental to the religious harmony among communities”. The PTA permits the Sri Lankan government to detain a suspect without any charges for 18 months.
It has been reported that Mr. Hizbullah’s detention order was renewed on 14 October 2020 and that the listing of his case before a Magistrate on 28 October 2020 was postponed to February, reportedly due to the COVID-19 crisis.
On 10 December 2020, Mr. Hizbullah’s lawyers filed a writ petition before the Court of Appeal seeking release from detention and access to Hizbullah. The lawyers submitted and the court noted that Hizbullah did not have access to his lawyers maintaining confidentially since September. In the Petition, Mr. Hizbullah’s lawyers stated that were given access to their client on only four occassions and that the authorities were present on all occasions around the lawyers and Mr. Hizbullah. During the Appeal Court hearing on 15 December, the Attorney General agreed to grant Mr. Hizbullah confidential access to counsel.
Mr. Hizbullah continues to be imprisoned in the absence of any charges. Lawyers for Lawyers has previously expressed concern about the arrested and prolonged detention of Mr. Hizbullah and will continue to follow his case closely.
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