October 20, 2022

Diminishing Democracy | BHRC Panel on Human Rights and the Rule of Law in Sri Lanka

The Bar Human Rights Committee of England and Wales (‘BHRC’) hosted a virtual panel event on Wednesday 19 October 2022 to spotlight serious and shared concerns about human rights violations and the rule of law in Sri Lanka. This event is the second in BHRC’s Diminishing Democracy series and follows a panel on rule of law in India held in September 2021.

In this session, which is chaired by BHRC Vice-Chair Aswini Weereratne KC, BHRC brings leading lawyers and civil society representatives from Sri Lanka together to discuss:

1) The importance of the rule of law in Sri Lanka and of the obligations ofSri Lanka under international law (including the illegality of the Prevention of Terrorism Act under international law);

2) Sri Lanka’s international obligations as a party to the ICCPR not only to respect and protect the rights to freedom of assembly and expression but also to actively promote and facilitate their exercise;

3) The need for protection for lawyers, judges, journalists and all those involved in recording and reporting on these developments in Sri Lanka;

4) The current economic crisis which is aggravating widespread violations of economic, social and cultural rights protected by the ICESCR;

5) The need to reprise the 19th amendment of the Constitution and end the unchecked powers of the presidency, to repeal the draconian PTA against peaceful protesters, and release all protesters who are held under the PTA;

6) The role of the IMF in ensuring that fundamental human rights protection and the rule of law lie at the core of funding agreements struck with Sri Lanka; and

7) Ensuring that parliamentary elections are held and arranged and / or monitored by international bodies to restore confidence in parliamentary democracy.