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  • CBK commends Dr. Shafi’s noble gesture of donating past salary to buy essential medicine
    Falsely accused by racist elements for alleged illegal sterilisation, Kurunegala Teaching Hospital doctor says racism will not take country or organisation forward except make poor people suffer more; calls on all to make Sri Lanka racism-free   Former President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga has commended Dr. Mohamed Shafi Shihabdeen over his gesture of donating the past salaries amounting to Rs. 2.6 million during his suspension and imprisonment on false charges to buy essential medicines. Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga

    Dr. Mohamed Shafi Shihabdeen



    Following...
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  • Dr. Shafi donates arrears of his salary to purchase medicines for hospitals
    Dr. Shihabdeen Mohamed Shafi, the doctor at the Kurunegala Teaching Hospital has decided to donate arrears of his salary amounting over Rs. 2.67 million for the purchase of essential medicines for hospitals.

    Dr. Shafi who was on compulsory leave on charges of performing infertility surgery, has received a cheque of over Rs. 2.67 million salary arrears from the Health Ministry last week.

    The salary arrears include the basic salary, interim allowance, cost of living, and allowance in lieu of pension for the period of compulsory leave imposed on Dr. Sihabdeen.

    Dr. Shafi who was employed at the Kurunegala teaching hospital was arrested on May 25th, 2019, on charges of performing infertility surgery.
    On July 25, 2019, the Kurunegala Magistrate’s Court ordered that the doctor be released on bail.
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  • Govt. used Sinhala-Buddhist shield to its maximum benefit Ven. Galkande Dhammananda Thera
    This Govt. nurtured thug-like monks promoted them and deployed them in various  places Certain monks have severe psychological wounds If  society isn’t healed cases of domestic violence, harassment and child  abuse will be on the rise Reconciliation  was about having workshops, providing a report and earning dollars Accountability  has not been included in the Constitution or the Judicial system Terrorism  sprouts in a country that has no justice Ven. Galkande Dhammananda Thera who currently heads the Walpola Rahula Institute for Buddhist Studies has been addressing issues related to social justice and harmony while promoting an inclusive and plural society. Having gathered a wealth of experience during the height of war for instance and having encountered various incidents during his lifetime, Ven. Dhammananda Thera has...
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  • Health ministry to pay back-wages for Dr. Shafi before July 10
    The Ministry of Health today gave an undertaking before the Court of Appeal that the salary and allowances payable to Dr. Shafi  Shihabdeen will be paid before July 10 this year. The Ministry of Health gave this undertaking pursuant to a writ petition filed by Dr. Shafi  Shihabdeen, who was at the centre of the controversy surrounding the alleged sterilisation of female patients. The Director General of Establishment at the Ministry of Public Services had earlier informed the Court that the basic salary, interim allowance, cost of living and allowance in lieu of pension could be paid to Dr. Shafi Shihabdeen, for the compulsory leave period. Meanwhile, the petitioner expressed willingness to attend the preliminary inquiry before Director of Kurunegala Teaching Hospital Dr. Chandana Kendangamuwa. Taking into consideration the facts,...
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  • Sri Lanka court orders release of lawyer held for two years
    A Sri Lankan court has ordered the release on bail of a lawyer arrested over his alleged links to the 2019 Easter Sunday bombings and held for nearly two years on charges rights groups say lacked credible evidence. Hejaaz Hizbullah was arrested in April 2020 and accused of being linked to the attacks on churches and hotels that left 279 people dead. But after prosecutors failed to provide evidence of his involvement in the attacks, blamed on a local group, he was instead Read More...
  • Hejaaz Hizbullah leaves from remand custody
    Attorney-at-law Hejaaz Hizbullah today left from remand custody after fulfilling his bail conditions before Puttlalam High Court.

    He was incarcerated for 22 months for allegedly committing offences come under the Prevention of Terrorism Act.Last Monday (07), the Court of Appeal ordered to release Hizbullah on bail pursuant to a revision application filed on behalf him.Hizbullah was ordered to be released on a cash bail of Rs.100,000 with two sureties of Rs.500,000 by Puttlalam High Court Judge Kumari Abeyratne. He was further ordered to report to the DIG office of Puttalam Police Division every second and fourth Sunday of every month.An indictment under the Prevention of Terrorism Act and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) Act has now been served on Hejaaz Hizbullah. According to the indictment, Hizbullah...
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  • හිජාස් ගෙදර යයි

    (නිමන්ති රණසිංහ සහ හිරාන් ප්‍රියංකර ජයසිංහ) ත්‍රස්තවාදය වැළැක්වීමේ පනත සහ සිවිල් හා දේශපාලන අයිතීන් පිළිබද ජාත්‍යන්තර සම්මුති පනත ප්‍රකාරව චෝදනා ලැබ වසර දෙකකට ආසන්න කාලයක් රක්ෂිත බන්ධනාගාර ගත කර සිටි නිතීඥ හිජාස් හිස්බුල්ලා මහතා අභියාචනාධිකරණ නියෝගය ප්‍රකාරව ඇප මත මුදාහැරීමට පුත්තලම මහාධිකරණය අද (09)...
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  • Court of Appeal grants bail on Hejaaz Hizbullah
    The Court of Appeal today ordered to release Attorney-at-law Hejaaz Hizbullah on bail after nearly two years in detention and remand custody. Accordingly, the Court of Appeal directed the Puttalam High Court to release Hejaaz Hizbullah on bail with suitable bail conditions. The Court of Appeal two-judge-bench comprising Justice Menaka Wijesundera and Justice Neil Iddawala made this order taking into consideration a revision application filed on behalf of Hejaaz Hizbullah. The Attorney General did not raise objections to release Hizbullah on bail. On January 28, an application made by the defence requesting to release Attorney-at-law Hejaaz Hizbullah on bail was rejected by Puttalam High Court.   The High Court Judge Kumari Abeyrathne refused to grant bail citing that she has no jurisdiction to grant bail under the Prevention of Terrorism...
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  • Attorney at law Hejaaz Hizbullah granted bail
    Attorney-at-law Hejaaz Hizbullah has been granted bail by the Court of Appeal after being detained for over 20 months. Hizbullah was released on bail today after the Puttalam High Court judge refused to grant bail to him last month. Refusing bail, she claimed that it was not under her jurisdiction, despite the Attorney General having consented to grant bail. The judge further informed the defense to request bail from the Court of Appeal on the 9th of February 2022. The bail application had been filed at the Puttalam High Court after Hizbullah’s lawyer had agreed to a settlement with the other parties in the interest of his client. On 20th January, the Attorney General’s (AG) Department said it has no objections to releasing Hizbullah on bail subject to conditions. The AG’s Department informed the Court of Appeal that the bail...
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  • සී.අයි.ඩියෙ හිටිය දවස් 46ම නිදාගත්තෙ ප්ලාස්ටික් බෝතලේ ඔලුවට තියාගෙනයි - දොස්තර ශාෆි කියන කතාව
    “හිර කුටියේදී එයාල මට ලීටර් එක හමාරෙ ප්ලාස්ටික් බීම බෝතලයක් තියාගන්න ඉඩ දුන්නා. කාටවත් කොට්ට දුන්නෙ නෑ. ඒත් බිම ඔලුව තියාගෙන ඉන්නකොට මට නින්ද යන්නෙ නෑ. බෝතලේ වතුරෙන් පුරවල ටිකක් වතුර ඉවත් කළාම ඒක ටිකක් නම්‍ය වෙනවා. මම සී.අයි.ඩියෙ හිටිය දවස් 46ම නිදාගත්තෙ ප්ලාස්ටික් බෝතලේ ඔලුවට තියාගෙනයි. මම ඒකට හුරු වුණා.” ශාෆි සහාබ්දීන් එම...
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Hejaaz: A lawyer for all seasons

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A year has passed since the deadly Easter Sunday attacks in Sri Lanka. Victims, survivors, and the general public still await answers. Amidst these desperate demands for accountability, Hejaaz Hizbullah, a prominent Muslim lawyer, is suddenly – and most unexpectedly – arrested and detained.

I met Hejaaz during the first-ever debating tournament I participated in. He led the team from S. Thomas’ College, Mount Lavinia, and I represented St. Joseph’s College, Colombo. Our teams made it to the finals that year. I recall Hejaaz as a fierce competitor with the rare gift for conveying an argument with charisma and conviction. He also had a great sense of humour, taking friendly banter in good spirit. The Thomians triumphed that year, and deservedly so.

What strikes me now is that five of the eight young debaters that day went on to become lawyers. We had found our community: the legal fraternity.

A few years later, I encountered Hejaaz again. It was in the first ever case I argued before the Court of Appeal. Hejaaz represented the State, and I represented certain public officers seeking promotions. I recall his keen knowledge of the law, and his outstanding skills in advocacy. But on this occasion, I also encountered another side to him. He was not just interested in winning an argument. I detected in him a deeper commitment to justice. He did not see himself merely as a representative of the State; he saw himself as an officer of justice.


This commitment to justice has defined Hejaaz’s legal career. After leaving the Attorney-General’s Department, he entered the private bar. He became a tenacious defender and champion of the Sri Lankan Constitution, and an outspoken representative of victims of hate and violence.

Most importantly, he has been a leading voice against violent extremism on all sides. Hejaaz has consistently stood against inter-religious and inter-ethnic hatred and violence in all its forms.

In the days that followed the Easter Sunday attacks, Hejaaz was among the first to publicly condemn the heinous crimes. He called for the rejection of hatred to ‘confirm that the attackers are fools who died as fools’. He has since taken an active role in promoting reconciliation and coexistence among communities in Sri Lanka.

In the last few weeks, we have witnessed a cruel irony: a lawyer who stood up against violent extremism is being maligned as an ‘extremist’ in the ‘court’ of public opinion. It is unconscionable that an officer of the court is now being deprived of his basic right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty. He is yet to be produced before a judge, and is yet to be given meaningful access to his lawyers.

Even before a judge has had the opportunity to examine Hejaaz (let alone make an order with regard to his case), he is being pronounced ‘guilty’ through a vicious and prejudicial media narrative against him.

If indeed Hejaaz is on trial by public opinion, let us consider some facts that emerge from his fundamental rights petition before the Supreme Court. These facts are rarely featured in this prejudicial narrative.

Hejaaz has been at the forefront of defending democracy and peace in Sri Lanka. Recall that the country was thrust into a constitutional crisis in October 2018. Hejaaz was the lawyer who represented Election Commissioner Prof. Ratnajeevan Hoole before the Supreme Court in the case concerning the unlawful dissolution of Parliament. He was among the leading lawyers who convinced the Court that the President’s actions were unconstitutional. The rest is history. We owe an irreparable debt of gratitude to Hejaaz; his work helped preserve Sri Lanka’s fragile constitutional democracy.

Hejaaz has also appeared in scores of court cases concerning Ven. Galagoda Aththe Gnanasara Thera. He is the lawyer in Fundamental Rights applications that deal with alleged hate speech by this Buddhist clergyman, and the 2014 Aluthgama violence. Hejaaz is also the lawyer in a defamation case against Ven. Gnanasara Thera.

When you think of ‘Hejaaz Hizbullah, Attorney-at-Law,’ do not uncritically accept the picture that is painted of him in the media. Ask yourself if this picture bears any resemblance to what we know of him. He is the lawyer who represented an Election Commissioner in one of the most important cases in our country’s constitutional history. He is the lawyer who has fearlessly defended victims of hatred and violence in numerous cases. He is the lawyer who tirelessly stood against violent extremism by confronting powerful and influential people.

Once we put Hejaaz’s arrest and detention in its proper context, we begin to see it for what it really is: an indecent assault on one of the legal profession’s finest. A crude punishment – not for engaging in extremism, but for working against it. His is not just a case concerning the unjust treatment of an individual with strong political opponents. It is the culmination of a tectonic shift in Sri Lanka: where extremists are pardoned, and voices against extremism are jailed.

Hejaaz Hizbullah is part of a profession that I count myself privileged to be a member of. He is part of the reason I, like many others who encountered him in our youth, decided to join this profession. He is, and always will be, part of the reason many more will join it.

http://www.ft.lk/columns/Hejaaz-A-lawyer-for-all-seasons/4-699988

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