Fifth Human Rights Workshop for Lawyers in Sri Lanka

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

From 22 to 23 February 2020, the Max Planck Foundation conducted a workshop in Jaffna, Northern Province of Sri Lanka in partnership with the Bar Association of Sri Lanka. The workshop was attended by 32 lawyers, with varying levels of experience, practicing in the provincial courts in the Northern Province.

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 Max Planck Foundation also addressed the international law pertaining to non-discrimination, gender equality, children’s rights, and the rights of persons with disabilities. The lawyers were challenged to consider the ways that human rights law may come up in their daily work, beyond dealing with fundamental rights cases. The participants were particularly interested in issues relating to gender discrimination and the application of the Domestic Violence Act. Throughout the sessions, the lawyers considered case studies and devised innovative ways to strengthen human rights protection in Sri Lanka.

The programme further focused on introducing the participating lawyers to the importance of public interest litigation and strategic litigation, with the aim of building their capacity to 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 workshop was closed by Mr Thuraisingam Prakalathan, a member of the Bar Association of Sri Lanka’s Programme Committee, who emphasised the importance of supporting and developing the capacity of lawyers, especially junior lawyers, around the country.

This workshop is the fifth 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 final workshop for this project is due to take place in Negombo, Western Province from 07 to 08 March 2020.