The Foundation convened a workshop for Judges from the District Courts and Magistrate Courts in Sri Lanka

Judges from the District Courts and Magistrate Courts attended a workshop on “A Rights-Based Approach to Judicial Decision-Making in Times of Crisis”.

In partnership with the Sri Lanka Judges’ Institute, the Max Planck Foundation hosted the workshop from 26-28 April 2024 in Kandy, Sri Lanka.

The workshop was designed considering the two distinct jurisdictions of the District and Magistrate Courts. Broadly, the former has jurisdiction over civil matters and the latter, over criminal matters. Throughout the workshop, experts and participants explored the relevancy and possibility of applying a rights-based approach to the work of both the Courts. Drawing from international human rights, common law rights and values, and statutory rights, such an approach strives to advance the best interests and rights of litigants. Given the human rights implications triggered by situations of crisis, each session attempted to underscore the heightened importance of applying the rights-based approach during times of crisis.

The workshop was delivered by local experts and Foundation’s Research Fellows. Justice Mahinda Samayawardhena, Justice of the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka and Director of the Sri Lanka Judges’ Institute, convened a session on judicial sensitivity of judges in times of crisis followed by another session on the various skills and values that judges should embody when presiding over cases and writing judgements.

Justice A.W.A Salam, former President of the Court of Appeal, and Justice Dr Ranjith Ranaraja, former Justice of the Court of Appeal, also expounded on the relevant skills and values required in judges and how those must be reflected in the judgements they write.

Professor Deepika Udagama, Chair Professor at the University of Peradeniya explored the theoretical and practical nexus between human rights and private law, especially in light of the jurisdiction of the District Courts.

Other local experts and Research Fellows delivered sessions on the roles of responsibilities of judges during times of crisis, the relationship between human rights and criminal law, and applying a rights-based approach to judicial reasoning.

This workshop was part of the German Foreign Office funded project ‘Strengthening the rule of law and democratic principles in Sri Lanka in Times of Crisis’.