Eight European Human Rights Ambassadors have denounced the treatment of Attorney-at Law Hejaaz Hizbullah stating that they “regret to note that after 10 months of detention, Mr. Hizbullah is now being accused of speech related offences”.
The statement signed by Human Rights Ambassadors of the United Kingdom, German, Sweden, Netherlands, Lithuania, Estonia and Luxembourg state that Hizbullah was a defender of human rights.
“Mr. Hizbullah is a leading advocate of the rights of people from minority communities including Muslims in Sri Lana and a vocal critic of discriminatory policies” the statement said. Hizbullah was arrested on 14 April 2020 and has been held in detention since then. His lawyers were not permitted access until intervention of the Court of Appeal.
He was produced before the Fort Magistrates Court on 18 February. On the day the Attorney General informed Court that Hizbullah would be charged for a purported speech given at an Arabic College in Puttalam.
The Principal of the Madrasa was arrested on 17 February on the advice of the Attorney General.
Hizbullah and his lawyers have claimed that the entire case was a fabrication. They claimed that the Criminal Investigations Department had coerced the children into making statements during three days they took the children into custody in April last year.
The statement by the Ambassadors further said: “We join the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, special procedures mandate holders, in urging the Government of Sri Lanka to respect human rights defenders such as Hizbullah.”
Hizbullah’s case will be heard before the Fort Magistrate’s Court on 18 March.