Foundation convenes workshop for High Court Judges in Sri Lanka

The workshop examined a rights-based approach to judicial reasoning and practice in times of crisis.

In collaboration with the Sri Lanka Judges’ Institute, the Max Planck Foundation hosted the second in a series of workshops for Judges from around the island. The event took place from 13 – 15 October 2023 and was held in Kandy in Sri Lanka’s Central Province.

The workshop programme was designed with the unique and expansive jurisdiction of Sri Lanka’s Provincial High Courts in mind. Participants examined the potential of a rights-based approach to judicial reasoning with specific reference to their criminal, civil and writ jurisdictions. Such an approach draws from international human rights, fundamental rights jurisprudence, common law rights and values, and statutory rights to advance the best interests of litigants. The Judges also explored the relevance of a rights-based approach to their judicial practice in managing court procedures and interacting with litigants and the public. Each session additionally highlighted how the rights-based approach may be especially important during times of crisis and emergency.

The programme consisted of a mix of theoretical and practical components and was delivered by Foundation Research Fellows and Consultants in collaboration with local experts. Expert contributions were made by 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; and Professor Deepika Udagama, Chair Professor at the University of Peradeniya who explored the relevance of human rights and national rights frameworks to the High Court and how rights are regulated during formal states of emergency.

This workshop, which was was part of the German Foreign Office funded project ‘Strengthening the rule of law and democratic principles in Sri Lanka in Times of Crisis’, concludes the Foundation’s activities with the Sri Lanka Judges’ Institute in 2023, but future collaborations are planned within the scope of the current project in 2024.