Fourth Human Rights Workshop for Lawyers in Sri Lanka

The Foundation delivers Human Rights Workshop in the Eastern Province in cooperation with the Bar Association of Sri Lanka

From 7 to 8 December 2019, the Max Planck Foundation conducted a workshop in Pasikuda, Eastern Province of Sri Lanka in partnership with the Bar Association of Sri Lanka. The workshop was attended by 25 lawyers, with varying levels of experience, practicing in the provincial courts in the Eastern Province.

The workshop was opened by the President of the Bar Association of Sri Lanka, Mr Kalinga Indatissa PC, who emphasised the important role played by lawyers in enhancing and enforcing human rights, and challenged lawyers to continue their legal education while in practice to stay abreast of developments in the law.

The programme covered a wide spectrum of civil and political rights, including fair trial rights and qualified rights, as well as the prohibition on torture and enforced disappearances. Facilitators from the Foundation also addressed the international law pertaining to non-discrimination, gender equality, children’s rights, and the rights of persons with disabilities. The lawyers engaged in robust discussion of these rights at the international, national and local level, with a particular focus on cutting edge issues that have come up in their daily work. Throughout the sessions, the lawyers considered case studies and devised innovative ways to strengthen human rights protection in Sri Lanka.

The participating lawyers were also introduced to the importance of public interest litigation and strategic litigation, with the aim of building their capacity to launch and engage in such litigation. The Assistant Secretary of the Bar Association of Sri Lanka, Mr Vishwa de Livera Tennekoon, presented an inspirational session about the role of Sri Lankan lawyers in advancing the public interest. This added local context to the broader international law discussions that took place.

The German Ambassador to Sri Lanka, His Excellency Jörn Rohde, attended the workshop to make closing remarks. The Ambassador emphasised the crucial role that lawyers play in ensuring that laws are translated into practices, which protect and respect human rights, and further called for the rule of law and good governance to be upheld in Sri Lanka.

This workshop is the fourth of six to be held in partnership with the Bar Association of Sri Lanka, at the provincial level, as part of the German Federal Foreign Office funded project, “Capacity Building for Judges and Lawyers in Sri Lanka“. The next workshop is due to take place in Jaffna, in the Northern Province in the first quarter of 2020.