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A legacy of independence

Graphic: Dr Deepika Udagama, HRCSL Chairperson, addresses APF 24

The APF has paid tribute to the outgoing Chairperson of the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka and her five-year leadership of the NHRI.

The APF has paid tribute to the outgoing Chairperson of the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka and her committed leadership of the organisation over the past five years.

Dr Deepika Udagama was appointed Chairperson in October 2015. At the time, the Commission was a 'B status' institution.

"Throughout her term, Dr Udagama has sought to strengthen the independence and credibility of the Commission and be a voice for all Sri Lankans," Kieren Fitzpatrick, Director of the APF secretariat, said.

Under her leadership, the Commission conducted independent inspections of prisons and police lock-ups, addressed complaints of torture, issued directions to the police on arbitrary arrests, stood firm against hate speech and monitored the conduct of elections in the island nation.


The Commission is inspired to work harder for the protection of human rights of all in Sri Lanka.

Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka Logo Dr Deepika Udagama, Chairperson, Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka

In June 2018, the Commission was reaccredited as an 'A status' national human rights institution (NHRI) by the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions (GANHRI).

"The decision by the GANHRI Sub-Committee on Accreditation recognised the Commission's independent and principled advocacy for human rights, within a very complex social and political environment," Mr Fitzpatrick said.

"It was also a testament to Dr Udagama's steadfast and courageous leadership."

The APF secretariat recently met online with Dr Udagama, as part of the Leadership Solidarity Outreach program, to discuss the current work of the Commission and thank her for contribution to the APF over the past five years.

The discussion also looked at the future challenges the Commission may face and the support the APF could provide to Dr Udagama's successor.


Graphic: The APF secretariat in discussion with the HRCSL Chairperson


The Leadership Solidarity Outreach program is an opportunity for member institutions to identify areas where the APF can provide support or advice to assist them in their efforts to uphold human rights, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In addition to the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka, the APF has held consultations with the NHRIs of Bahrain, Malaysia and the Philippines.

The Leadership Solidarity Outreach program will continue while COVID-19 travel restrictions remain in place, at which time the APF's regular face-to-face capacity development activities will resume.

APF members wishing to participate in the Leadership Solidarity Outreach program can contact Pip Dargan at: pipdargan@asiapacificforum.net.

Date: 27 August 2020


Image credits

  1. Dr Deepika Udagama, HRCSL Chairperson, addresses APF 24 - APF/ National Human Rights Commission of Korea
  2. The APF secretariat in discussion with the HRCSL Chairperson - APF