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Sri Lanka bars academics from practising as lawyers

Following a decision to the head of law at Jaffna University Dr Kumaravadivel Guruparan from engaging in private legal practice, Sri Lanka’s University Grants Commission (UGC) has announced that all academic staff members can no longer practise as attorneys.

In a circular released last week, the UGC said that “approval cannot be granted”, despite a previous 2013 decision, which said academics could practise as attorneys, if “such work is not an obstacle for his/her routine duties”.

No further explanation was provided by the UGC.

See the full circular here.

Guruparan was barred from engaging in private practice following pressure from the Sri Lankan military, after he took up a public interest habeas corpus case into the 1996 disappearance of more than two dozen Tamil youth. The incident drew outrage from around the world, with hundreds signing a statement condemning the ‘threats, harassment and reprisals’ against the prominent human rights lawyer and the international human rights organisation Front Line Defenders has issued an urgent appeal.