Human Rights Seminar for Judges in Sri Lanka Successfully Concluded

The Foundation delivers Human Rights Seminar in Negombo in cooperation with the Judges’ Institute of Sri Lanka

From 30 to 31 July 2022, the Max Planck Foundation conducted a seminar in Negombo, a western province in Sri Lanka, in partnership with the Judges’ Institute of Sri Lanka.

The seminar was attended by 30 Judges of the District, Magistrate and High Courts from the western province. The seminar commenced with an opening remark by Hon. Justice Mahinda Samayawardhena, Justice of the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka and Director of Sri Lanka Judges’ Institute. The first day of the seminar introduced participants to different types of legal reasoning, judicial interpretation and the concept of the judicial policy and its effect on the quality of judgments. This was followed by an introduction to Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ESCR) given by a local expert discussing specific features and peculiar traits of ESCR, focusing especially on their domestic application and on the issue of justiciability. Afterwards, another local expert discussed the legal reasoning and judicial interpretation of ESCR in Sri Lanka from a practical perspective by discussing several case studies after participants were split into different groups and asking them to provide perceptions in light of various interpretation means that have been presented. The first day of the seminar culminated in a presentation from the Foundation’s staff on a comparative perspective to legal reasoning and judicial interpretation of ESCR, where the discussion of legal reasoning continued with providing further comparative jurisprudence on using the mentioned judicial techniques in relation to the application of ESCR and raises the question of the possibility of citing foreign judgments in the domestic legal system.

The second day of the seminar focused on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ESCR) during times of crisis with reflections on the current situation in Sri Lanka. The first session covered the legal and conceptual framework relevant to ESCR during times of crisis, where it explored the application and possible limitations of ESCR in exceptional circumstances. It was followed by a practical exercise on ESCR during times of crisis by providing case studies from a comparative practice. The last session of the seminar was a panel discussion between two local experts and the director of the Judges’ institute, and moderated by the Foundation staff, who actively engaged the participants with questions and points of view on the application of ESCR during times of crisis.

The Judges engaged in robust discussion of the ESCR at the international, national and local level, with a particular focus on cutting edge issues that have come up in their daily work with analytical reflections on the current situation in Sri Lanka.. Throughout the sessions, the Judges considered case studies and devised innovative ways to strengthen human rights protections at the provincial level.

This workshop is the first of three to be held in partnership with the Judges’ Institute of Sri Lanka at the provincial level as part of the German Federal Foreign Office funded project, “Advancing Institutional Capacity in the Sri Lankan Justice System”.