The Chevening Alumni Association SL in a statement has condemned the arbitrary arrest and detention of Chevening Scholar of 2007 Hejaaz Hizbullah.
The statement said Hejaaz had been detained by Sri Lankan authorities for over one year, following an arbitrary arrest in April 2020. Hejaaz has served the state as an officer of the Attorney General’s Department of Sri Lanka and was later an independent legal practitioner, recognised as a strong advocate for minority rights. His legal career has seen him defend human rights and constitutional values of freedom, democracy and rule of law.
The statement said: “As fellow citizens and his fellow alumni of the Chevening scholarship programme1, we strongly condemn the continued detention of Hejaaz, who has not been afforded the due process of law and judicial scrutiny. We call for his immediate release on the basis that, as per publicly available information, even after more than 13 months since his arrest, no credible evidence has been levelled against Hejaaz that points to any wrongdoing on his part.
“We recognise that the arbitrary and unjust detention of Hejaaz under the draconian Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) is predisposed to failing to secure due process and access to justice. We also recognise that Hejaaz’s detention is emblematic of arbitrary detention and denial of due process to many others, including poet and teacher Ahnaf Jazeem. The Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka (HRCSL) has recognised that the PTA does not adhere to international human rights standards, called for its repeal, and called upon the Government to ensure that any legislation pertaining to national security should ‘include certain core elements to ensure it adheres to international human rights standards’.”
Chevening is the UK Government’s global scholarship program that offers future leaders the opportunity to pursue a master’s degree in the UK.