The Council of Advisers is delighted to welcome its second Sri Lankan member, the leading human rights advocate Basil Fernando. Basil has been the Executive Director of the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) and the Asian Legal Resource Centre (ALRC) since 1994 but has been active on human rights and social action since youth.
Asked why he has decided to support this project, he was typically straight-forward: “I support this campaign on the basis that justice is a critical human issue. And what we face in Sri Lanka is a fundamental problem of justice affecting all Sri Lankans. The utter collapse of the basic rule of law in Sri Lanka and the human rights crisis that has resulted is one of the worst situations we are now facing in the world. I have a feeling that the world still does not realize the extent of the crisis in Sri Lanka. If I can in some way contribute to bringing about that realization and, in consequence help to develop countermeasures that are proportionate to the problem I would be very glad to do so. I wish to underline, that what I see in Sri Lanka is a total crisis – of democracy, rule of law and human rights affecting ALL – not just minorities only”.
And his is a view that cannot be easily dismissed.
A graduate of the Faculty of Law of the University of Ceylon in 1972, Basil has worked at the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka for nine years and more recently, he has held senior posts in the UN system. This includes working for the United Nation High Commissioner for Refugees as Counsel for Vietnamese refugees in Hong Kong and in Cambodia where he served as the Senior United Nations Human Rights Officer-In-Charge of the Investigation Unit under the UN Transitional Authority, and the Officer-In-Charge and the Chief of the Legal Assistance at the Cambodia Office of United Nations Centre for Human Rights. He is also author and editor of several books on human rights and legal reform issues and has contributed many articles to academic journals and the media, aside from being Chief Editor of Human Rights SOLIDARITY and Article 2. For all his work over many decades, he was awarded the Kuwanju (Korea) Human Rights prize in 2001.
For details of the Asian Human Rights Commission publications on Sri Lanka see http://www.srilankahr.net/ and for his most recent articles on Sri Lanka see http://www.article2.org/ and http://www.article2.org/mainfile.php/0804/363/