In a joint communique, seven UN rapporteurs, including Mary Lawlor, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, have expressed their deep concern at the detention of Attorney-at-law Hejaaz Hizbullah.

They believe the detention may have been used as a means to prevent him from further engaging with ongoing human rights cases concerning rising hate speech, violence and discrimination against the Muslim minority in Sri Lanka.

Therefore, the Special Rapporteurs recommended reviewing the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) in Sri Lanka to bring it in line with international human rights standards.

The Special Rapporteurs have expressed further concern at the reported irregularities in due process, partly facilitated by the Prevention of Terrorism Act which allowed Hizbullah to be held without charge for almost a year with severely restricted access to lawyers.

Seven UN Special Rapporteurs including Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, Special Rapporteur on minority issues were signatories to this joint communication.


According to the joint communication, on 19 August 2020, the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) filed a report regarding an ongoing investigation into Hizbullah’s activities. The report allegedly claimed that Hizbullah had acted as counsel on several occasions for individuals involved in terrorism and unlawful activity and that he had been collecting data and information on various attacks on Muslims.

The evidence allegedly incriminating Hizbullahwas related to phone calls he made with a suicide bomber at the Easter Sunday attacks. It has been alleged that Hizbullah made 14 phone calls to this individual over five years, being his legal representative in civil property dispute cases.

Hizbullah later faced accusations that he radicalised children at the charity, Save the Pearls. He is the only member of the organisation that has been arrested. Since his arrest, leading figures of the organisation have affidavits attesting to the falsity of rumours that children were radicalised. And The former Head of Counter-Terrorism at the Sate Intelligence Services of Sri Lanka, who is also a member of the organisation, has sworn an affidavit attesting to the fact that the activities of the charity were entirely legitimate, in housing and educating vulnerable children,’ the joint communication further added.



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