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Somasunderam Nadesan Q.C.
for Human Rights Through The Law
From The Rev. Celestine Fernando
October 7th this year will be the fifty-sixth anniversary of the day on which Somasunderam Nadesan was enrolled as an Advocate of the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka. As you know he soon established himself as one of the country's leading civil and criminal lawyers. He became a Queen's Counsel in 1954 and was elected President of the Bar Council of Sri Lanka in 1970. He was the only Sri Lankan to sit in the Senate almost continuously from its inception in 1947 until its abolition in 1972. He was a passionate advocate of human rights and the civil liberties of the individual and espoused these causes unceasingly and tirelessly up to the day of his death on December 21st last year. Although he played a leading role in national affairs he always shunned any form of personal publicity. Simplicity and humility were the hallmarks of his genius.
In order to perpetuate the memory of this great man and the ideals to which he devoted ids entire lie, it has been decided to establish THE NADESAN CENTRE HUMAN RIGHTS THROUGH LAW. I am enclosing a short note on the aims and objectives of THE NADESAN CENTRE and will be most grateful if you could publish/broadcast it on October 7. If, for any reason this is nut possible then we will appreciate publication as close as possible to that date.
EMBARGOED FOR MEDIA RELEASE
Establishment of the Nadesan Centre - Short Note
Mr. S. Nadesan QC who was enrolled as an advocate of the Supreme Court on 7 October 1931 and who died on 21 December last year was a fearless and dedicated champion of human rights and civil liberties throughout his long and distinguished legal career. He was elected President of the Bar Council in 1970. Mr. Nadesan campaigned ceaselessly for the legal riots of individuals and groups in the Senate of which he was a member almost continuously from its inception in 1947 until its abolition in 1972.
He was a founder member of the Civil Rights Movement in 1971 and remained its driving force until the day of his death at the age of 83. THE NADESAN CENTRE FOR HUMAN RIGHTS THROUGH LAW has been set up to perpetuate his memory. It will be primarily a legal service organisation fur non-governmental organisations and individuals active in human rights work. The constitution of THE NADESAN CENTRE specifically provides that it will "seek to complement rather than duplicate the efforts of others
active in the field of human rights, and to this end shall place emphasis on providing a service for lawyers and organisations engaged in the pursuit of legal remedies for human rights violations with a view to making their work more effective."
The initial projects of the Nadesan Centre will be the establishment of a human rights law library and the provision of a consultative and advisory service for lawyers engaged in human rights cases.
There have been remarkable developments in international human rights law, and the creation of a body of jurisprudence in this field. Lawyers engaged in such work in Sri Lanka have experienced difficulties in gaining access to this body of law in respect of the decisions of international bodies, regional tribunals and decisions of national courts in other countries. The library will meet this need. In providing a consultative and advisory service to lawyers working in the field of human rights the Centre will aim at strengthening their work and making it more effective by minimising duplication and dilution of effort.
THE NADESAN CENTRE, an independent and non political institution, also aims to provide a forum for scholarly discussion, to engage in research and bring out publications on selected topics, to examine violations of human rights and provide legal representation in selected cases, to liaise with similar organisations elsewhere and to promote public education in human rights.
THE NADESAN CENTRE FOR HUMAN RIGHTS THROUGH LAW. No.26, Charles. Place, Colombo 3. Chairman: The Rev. Celestine Fernando. Jt. Secretaries: Radhika Coomaraswamy and Suriya Wickremasinghe. Treasurer: Sithie Tiruchelvam.