Sixth Human Rights Workshop for Lawyers in Sri Lanka

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

From 7 to 8 March 2020, the Max Planck Foundation conducted a workshop in Negombo, Western Province of Sri Lanka in partnership with the Bar Association of Sri Lanka. The workshop was attended by 45 lawyers, with varying levels of experience, practicing in the provincial courts in the Western Province, the Court of Appeals, and the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka.

The workshop 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 were challenged to consider the ways that human rights law may come up in their daily work, including when dealing with fundamental rights cases. The participants were particularly encouraged to think strategically about their practice in light of their geographical location near the Supreme Court and Court of Appeals, in addition to the Western Province lower courts. The participants were particularly interested in issues relating to qualified rights and the rights of children. 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.

As the sixth and final Human Rights workshop of the project, the President of the Bar Association of Sri Lanka, Mr Kalinga Indatissa PC, closed the event. He emphasised the ethical obligations of lawyers in continuing their legal education and expressed sincere thanks to the Foundation for its contribution to this endeavour, calling for a continued collaboration between the two institutions beyond the current project.

This was the final workshop 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“. Five prior workshops were held in the Southern, Central, North Central, Eastern, and Northern provinces, respectively since the project began in 2019.