Foundation successfully convenes workshop for Judges in Sri Lanka

A first workshop for District Judges and Magistrates on human rights in times of crisis was held in Galle, Sri Lanka.

As part of the Max Planck Foundation’s most recent project in Sri Lanka, and in collaboration with the Sri Lanka Judges’ Institute, a workshop for Judges from around the island was held from 19 – 21 April 2023. The workshop examined a rights-based approach to judicial reasoning during times of crisis.

During the workshop, participants interrogated the concept of crisis, explored the impact of crisis on human rights in the short-, medium- and long-term and examined the unique role played by judges in advancing human rights during crisis. One tool unpacked throughout the workshop was a rights-based approach to judicial reasoning. This draws from international human rights law, fundamental rights, common law rights and statutory rights to creatively advance the interests of litigants, particularly members of vulnerable groups, in matters before the lower courts.

The programme was delivered by the Foundation’s Research Fellows and Consultants in collaboration with local experts. Expert contributions were made by: Dr Gehan Gunatilleke, who explored the possible relevance of a rights-based approach to judicial reasoning in the Sri Lankan context; Dr Jayampathy Wickramaratne, who presented a session on a legal practitioner’s perspective on human rights in times of crisis; and Justice Mahinda Samayawardhena, Justice of the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka and Director of the Sri Lanka Judges’ Institute, who convened a session on a rights-based approach to judicial skills, ethics and practice.

This workshop forms part of the project Strengthening the Rule of Law and Democratic Principles in Sri Lanka in Times of Crisis generously funded by the German Federal Foreign Office and is the first of two workshops which the Foundation and the Sri Lanka Judges’ Institute will convene on this topic in 2023. The second upcoming programme will be held for Judges of the High Court.