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Hejaaz Hizbullah

HRD, Lawyer, Minority Rights Advocate

Hejaaz Hizbullah is a human rights lawyer based in Sri Lanka. He is a minority rights advocate in the face of rising intolerance against religious and ethnic minorities in the country. He is also a lecturer on Muslim Law at Sri Lanka Law College. He was among the lawyers who challenged the dissolution of the Parliament in 2018 in the Sri Lankan Supreme Court. He has come under frequent attacks by the government due to his legitimate human rights work on the protection of minority rights.

Despite the end of the armed conflict with the Tamil Tigers in 2009, strict security laws are in force and the situation for HRDs working on enforced disappearances, torture and land rights remains critical. HRDs seeking accountability for violations committed by both parties to the conflict face serious risks, including death threats, smear campaigns, judicial harassment, torture, enforced disappearance and killing. The army has also imposed some restrictions on assembly in Tamil regions. Impunity for crimes against HRDs is a major concern, since the current government shows no real intention to hold security forces responsible for the crimes they committed against HRDs and journalists during the civil war and the Rajapaksa years. Press freedom remains fragile, as journalists still face difficulties covering certain topics and are subject to harassment and intimidation. The revival of the Press Council - widely employed under Rajapaksa to target independent voices - in July 2015 has also alarmed HRDs.