Held from 20 to 22 October 2023, the workshop focused on human rights and lawyering in times of crisis.
The workshop brought together twenty-five lawyers in Trincomalee to examine the relevance of human rights to their legal reasoning and practice. It explored this with a particular focus on their work before the lower courts and Provincial High Courts.
The workshop commenced with an examination of the concept of crisis and the unique role played by lawyers in advancing human rights during crisis. Participants were introduced to seven distinct ways that rights might be advanced in their legal reasoning and practice including by drawing from international human rights law, highlighting Supreme Court precedent on fundamental rights, and arguing for the protection of common law rights and statutory rights. Lawyers also engaged in discussions of practical skills, including the crafting of persuasive written arguments, and explored how to engage ethically with clients and society at large.
The programme was delivered by Foundation Research Fellows and Consultants in collaboration with a local expert under the project ‘Strengthening the rule of law and democratic principles in Sri Lanka in Times of Crisis’ funded by the German Federal Foreign Office. The expert, a senior Sri Lankan lawyer, explored the relevance of rights-based arguments to legal issues particular to the North and Eastern Provinces and joined discussions on the practical potential and challenges of implementing such an approach in legal practice.
This was the second of two workshops which the Foundation and the Bar Association of Sri Lanka convened on this topic in 2023. The first workshop was held in April for lawyers from Sri Lanka’s Southern Province. A third workshop with the Bar Association of Sri Lanka is scheduled for 2024.