The Foundation convened a workshop on applying “A Human Rights-Based Approach to Judicial Decision-Making” in Ukulhas, the Maldives.

Between 8-9 May 2024, Judges from the Magistrate Courts attended the second out of three workshops to be delivered in the Maldives’ atolls in 2024 on this topic.

The workshops are part of the second stage of the Training-of-Trainers programme organised and delivered by the Max Planck Foundation in partnership with the Department of Judicial Administration and the Judicial Academy since 2023. Following the completion of both Training-of-Trainers programmes in 2023, judges from Specialised Courts, the High Court and the Supreme Court cascade their experience together with the acquired knowledge and skills through three capacity-building workshops for magistrates of the Maldives in 2024.

The goal of the programme is to introduce the concept of a human rights-based approach to judicial reasoning and recognise its significance in advancing the rights of vulnerable and marginalised individuals, such as women, children, persons with disabilities, migrant workers, and persons deprived of liberty. The workshop was designed in consultation with the local experts who participated in the Training-of-Trainers programme.

Over the course of two days, Research Fellows from the Foundation and local experts delivered thematic sessions to achieve the objectives of the workshop.

The programme commenced with an introduction to international human rights law and the obligations emanating from the international instruments ratified by the Maldives. This was followed by a session on conceptualising a human rights-based approach in judicial reasoning, exemplified with case studies from other jurisdictions to highlight methods employed by judges that can have a ripple effect on the rights of most vulnerable individuals.

Justice Dr Azmiralda Zahir from the Supreme Court of the Maldives delivered a session on how the Magistrate Courts can apply a human rights-based approach to fundamental rights applications brought before them. She also conducted sessions on the right to equality and non-discrimination and fair trial rights that underpin such an approach.

Judge Mohamed Shaneez Abdulla from the High Court of the Maldives delivered sessions on applying a human rights-based approach to cases of gender-based violence and cases concerning children in order to advance their best interests.

Each session had a thematic and practical component, geared towards encouraging participants to reflect on the opportunities and challenges of integrating a human rights-based approach in their work. This made the workshop highly interactive where the participating magistrates analysed several case studies, shared their findings in the larger forum, and had peer-to-peer exchanges.

This workshop was the second in the Roll-out programme, with the last one planned to take place in Kulhudhuffushi later this year under the German Federal Foreign Office-funded project At the Crossroad Between Progressive Reforms and Democratic Backsliding: Supporting the Stabilisation of the Maldives’.