Law & Society
Anchors LST’s commitment to ensuring an impartial and equitable justice system
It prioritizes rights-based approaches such as non-discrimination and inclusion and works towards changing laws, policies and practices and attitudes towards human rights.
This programme area focuses on the many dimensions relating to access to justice. This includes the promotion and protection of the rights of women, children, persons living with disabilities, religious minorities, persons identifying as LGBTQI, and persons encountering the criminal justice system as victims, witnesses and suspects.
The Trust aims to ensure that through this programme, hitherto discriminated and marginalized groups will be better equipped to articulate their own concerns and needs.
Law & Governance
Focuses on constitutional and legislative reform, strengthening the rule of law and participatory democracy
The Trust is committed to citizen’s engagement and participation in constitutional reform and transitional justice processes. Central to these reforms is the recognition of the importance of economic, social and cultural rights, traditionally not prioritized in constitutional reform initiatives.
LST engages in research and critical analysis of bills and policies from the perspective of human rights and constitutionalism. The Trust also documents and analyzes the State’s accountability and commitment to human rights issues through its responses to the judiciary, other state institutions and to issues relating to impunity.
Through this program the Trust aims to facilitate meaningful dialogue and cooperation between citizens and the State, and where necessary, support communities to hold the State accountable to deliver on national and international commitments. This is primarily achieved through community governance platforms and building relationships with provincial councils and local government authorities in promoting participatory governance.
In recognition of the historical work on devolution, minority rights and participatory governance, the Trust is committed to deepening public understanding of these issues. In addition, the Trust supports legal practitioners and academics in upholding and defending well-established principles of human rights, equality and dignity. This includes engaging with legal education, strategic public interest litigation and regular discussions within the legal professions on promoting and defending human rights principles in practice and law.
economic, social and cultural rights
Law & Economy
Is founded on Sri Lanka’s commitments to operationalising international treaties and laws
The Law and Economy programme is founded on Sri Lanka’s commitments to operationalising international treaties and laws. Specifically, it draws on the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the Directive Principles of State Policy in Sri Lanka’s Constitution and the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals to improve the lives of people.
LST has had a long interest in law and the economy having organized the national law and economy conference, consecutively for many years throughout the 1990s. Over time, LST has come to articulate a distinct critique of the neo-liberal economic model and has focused its attention on economic vulnerabilities and marginalization, especially within the rural economy. The programme’s recent work has focused on indebtedness and micro-finance, changing labour relations and land rights.
The Trust is committed to strengthening local communities in their struggles for land rights and social justice. Through this programme, LST highlights the centrality of land in the lives of individuals and communities in Sri Lanka. It conducts research and analysis of government policies on land, including land ownership, usage and development, and works closely with government officials and communities in developing equitable land use policies.
LST also focuses on promoting community and environmentally friendly urban development. LST supports the communities to know their rights, to articulate their needs in development processes including relocation processes, and to ensure that communities are supported throughout.
The Trust provides Trade Unions with strategic support while continuing to advocate that businesses engage with Trade Unions on human rights issues. In a changing world of work, the Trust facilitates learning from other countries in introducing alternative forms of mobilization and protection networks for privatized and informal sector workers.
Indebtedness has emerged as a defining characteristic of the rural economy, with many families unwittingly turning to microfinance credit on easy terms of access that are also linked to high interest rates. LST carries out research on the grievances of those affected by this debt and provides recommendations to the government to establish a regulatory framework and mechanisms for the oversight of microfinance institutions. LST supports financial literacy programmes for the affected communities and establishes dialogue platforms for communities to express their concerns to government at the local and national levels.
improve the lives of people
Civic Watch on Covid
A 12-month monitoring and reporting initiative to support active citizenship during the COVID-19 pandemic
Active citizenship is manifested through democratic dialogue and active listening between the government and citizens and inclusive citizen participation in democratic decision-making processes depends on the creation and availability of civic spaces.
The aim of this project is to strengthen democratic institutions, rule of law and public accountability during this crisis through a vigilant civic watch.
While the government is challenged to make rapid decisions in an unchartered context, citizens must ensure that this necessity is not abused to make unilateral and arbitrary decisions as well. There remains the necessity to consult independent professionals and experts, and use established democratic institutions and processes and transparent administrative structures. Citizens in a functioning democracy must never lose their agency and government’s must strive to garner public trust even as they make tough decisions.