Daily Archives: 27/01/2022

Interview: Attorney Saeeq Shajjan Entreats ‘We Need to Raise Our Voices for Afghanistan’s Embattled Lawyers’

27/01/22

Interview: Attorney Saeeq Shajjan Entreats ‘We Need to Raise Our Voices for Afghanistan’s Embattled Lawyers’

“Lawyers have the courage to speak up. Lawyers are educated. Lawyers are the people that can object to whatever dark policies [the Taliban] would like to implement. [A violent crackdown] is going to start very soon. It’s going to be really, really terrible, even compared to what we have seen so far,” warns Saeeq Shajjan, a corporate attorney from Kabul.

And he would know; Shajjan’s legal career has spanned the entirety of the 20-year-war and was bookended by the fall and subsequent rise of the Taliban.

Having fled to Toronto amid the chaos of the international military withdrawal from Afghanistan last summer, the self-described lawyer in exile has been working tirelessly to help several dozen of his colleagues who remain trapped in Afghanistan, and in many cases, in the Taliban’s crosshairs.

Shajjan earned his law degree from Kabul University in 2003—his education having spanned the end of the old Taliban regime and the start of the war. He then went on to earn LL.M. degrees from Harvard Law School (US) and Savitribail Phule Pune University (India). In 2011, he established his own practice, Shajjan & Associates, a Kabul-based corporate law firm that has received numerous international awards, including several designations as a Band 1 firm by Chambers and Partners. Among the firm’s high-profile international clientele was the Canadian Government, which the firm had represented on a variety of matters for nine years leading up to the Taliban’s resurgence.

JURIST Features Editor Ingrid Burke Friedman interviewed Shajjan about the evolution and devolution of Afghanistan’s legal profession, the plight of his colleagues who remain trapped in Afghanistan, and his hopes that the international community will learn from its mistakes.

[…]

https://www.jurist.org/features/2022/01/27/interview-attorney-saeeq-shajjan-entreats-we-need-to-raise-our-voices-for-afghanistans-embattled-lawyers/#

https://www.dawn.com/news/1671499

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/article-many-afghans-are-still-stuck-in-purgatory-we-must-not-let-their-plight/

https://www.asfcanada.ca/medias/nouvelles/avocat-e-de-droits-humains-une-profession-encore-trop-dangereuse/ (FRANCAIS)

https://www.le-tout-lyon.fr/mobilisation-lyonnaise-pour-les-avocats-en-danger-dans-le-monde-93851.html

Sri Lanka: Letter on the trial and ongoing detention of Hejaaz Hizbullah

27/01/22

Letter on the trial and ongoing detention of Hejaaz Hizbullah

The case against Sri Lankan human rights lawyer Hejaaz Hizbullah at the Puttalam High Court will be taken up on 28 January 2022. In the run-up to the hearing, Lawyers for Lawyers has sent a letter to the Sri Lankan authorities to express concern about the trial and ongoing detention of Hejaaz Hizbullah, who is the first lawyer to have been detained under Sri Lanka’s flawed Prevention of Terrorism Act.

On 14 April 2020, Mr. Hizbullah, minority rights advocate and legal counsel for many Muslim victims of human rights violations, was arrested by the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA). No reasons for the arrest were provided to Mr. Hizbullah or his family at the time of the arrest. He has remained in detention ever since. It has been reported that the detention order states that Mr. Hizbullah is being investigated for allegedly “aiding and abetting” the Easter Sunday bombers and for engaging in activities deemed “detrimental to the religious harmony among communities”. On 3 March 2021, Mr. Hizbullah was officially charged with “inciting communal disharmony under” under the PTA, for “advocating national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence” under the ICCPR Act of 2007 and for conspiracy and abetment charges under the Penal Code.

On 10 December 2020, Mr. Hizbullah’s lawyers filed a writ petition before the Court of Appeal seeking release from detention and access to Mr. Hizbullah. The lawyers submitted and the court noted that Mr. Hizbullah did not have access to his lawyers maintaining confidentially since September 2020. In the Petition, Mr. Hizbullah’s lawyers stated that were given access to their client on only four occasions and that the authorities were present on all occasions around the lawyers and Mr. Hizbullah. During the Appeal Court hearing on 15 December 2020, the Attorney General agreed to grant Mr. Hizbullah confidential access to counsel.

According to our information, on 19 November 2021, the bail hearing of Mr. Hizbullah took place at the Puttalam High Court. During this hearing, the judge stated that the High Court does not have the jurisdiction to grant bail under the PTA, and additionally pointed towards an inconsistency between the PTA and the constitution, which should be dealt with on a higher level and the legislative branch of government.

[…]

https://www.ft.lk/front-page/Attorney-General-consents-to-Hejaaz-Hizbullah-s-bail/44-729423

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-59900733

https://www.ft.lk/front-page/Attorney-General-consents-to-Hejaaz-Hizbullah-s-bail/44-729423

https://www.ft.lk/ft_view__editorial/AG-s-duplicity-in-Hejaaz-s-case/58-729439