A massive group of Sri Lankan lawyers have petitioned the Bar Association of Sri Lanka about the unlawful detention and lack of access to counsel for Attorney at Law Hejaaz Hizbullah, who was arrested by the CID on 14th April.
The letter expresses deep concern and perturbation that the BASL is yet to take a “firm and open stand” on the matter of the attorney Hizbullah’s arrest and detention, even though “the rights of all attorneys-at-law to undertake protection of the rights of their clients were jeopardised by this state of affairs.”
The 150 lawyers urged immediate action to remedy the situation and restore confidence in the ability of legal professionals to practice by having access to their clients, without being shut out and obstructed by police officers or any other authority without legal basis.
“A free, fearless and independent legal profession being one of the most important features of a democracy to protect rights of individuals, it is the duty of the leadership of the professional body to do its utmost to defend the ability to function as lawyers, without obstruction, fear or favour,” the letter by lawyers admonished.
150 lawyers put their signatures to the petition raising deep concern about the denial of his right to due access to legal and counsel and his family.
The lawyers noted that the detention of Hizbullah was a “serious” situation. “Eight days have passed since the arrest and detention of Mr. Hizbullah” the letter said.
“Neither reasons for his arrest nor provisions of law under which he is continued to be detained has been officially served upon him. This violates the basic Constitutional shield from being arrested except according to procedure established by law and the right to be informed of the reason for the arrest (Article 13(1) of the Constitution),” the lawyers said.
The letter also refers to the fact that Hizbullah is yet to be produced before a magistrate to date in violation of the right to judicial oversight of his custody.
“We believe that as the professional body entrusted with safeguarding a conducive environment for its members to engage in professional duties freely and fearlessly, the Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) should take swift, effective and meaningful action where legal guarantees of its members are denied,” the letter said.
The Attorneys at Law called upon the BASL to take necessary action immediately to ensure Hizbullah’s rights are guaranteed and due process is followed.
To read the letter by the lawyers to the BASL click here
(By Chinthika De Silva)