Board of Directors
Pulasthi Hewamanna (Chairperson)
Mr. Pulasthi Hewamanna is a senior legal practitioner in Sri Lanka with sixteen years’ experience in the fields of human rights and public law and intellectual property litigation. He is a consultant for many organisations including the National Christian Evangelical Alliance of Sri-Lanka, Right2Life, Janasansadaya. He currently is a lecturer in International Women’s and Children’s Rights for the LLM in International Human Rights awarded by the Birmingham City University in Sri Lanka’s Horizon Campus. Mr. Hewamanna is an Associate Fellow of the Centre for International Sustainable Development Law and was awarded the CISDL Legal Specialist Award in 2021. He is also a Panel Lawyer for the Legal Aid Commission of Sri Lanka and the Co-Chair of the Public Law Committee of the Bar Association of Sri Lanka.
Mr. Hewamanna has defended fundamental rights before the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka in instances of torture and arbitrary arrest and detention by State officers under the general law and the draconian terrorism law, maladies in the enforcement of equality, violations of the People’s freedom of speech and assembly and where freedom of religion has been violated by State officers who acquiesce to the harassment by other religious groups.
In 2019, Mr. Hewamanna spearheaded the legal action taken against the arbitrary implementation of the death penalty in Sri Lanka by the former President, disregarding a 40 year moratorium on the death penalty, and the Supreme Court granted a stay order on all executions.
He is currently canvassing the right to maternal health before the Supreme Court in a fundamental rights application for the first time, in a case where a pregnant mother and her unborn child died in a State hospital due to the unreasonable actions and/or inaction of its medical staff.
Mr. Hewamanna has vast experience in pre-enactment judicial review and over the years has appeared on behalf of TISL for instance in challenging the Twentieth Amendment to the Constitution Bill and the Anti-Corruption Bill. He also appeared for the Bar Association of Sri Lanka in challenging the Special Goods and Services Tax Bill and the Anti-Corruption Bill. He has also challenged the controversial Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) (Amendment) Bill and the Bureau of Rehabilitation Bill, and most recently he challenged the Ayurveda (Amendment) Bill and the Contempt of a Court, Tribunal and Institution Bill.
Furthermore, Mr. Hewamanna appears in the Court of Appeal of Sri Lanka in Writ application on various administrative law matters such as land acquisitions, recovery of possession of Government Quarters and State Lands. A most notable contribution of Mr. Hewamanna’s is the application challenging the arbitrary and ultra vires move to construct a four lane elevated highway in the Thalangama Wetland which is an Environmentally Protected Area and the Court of Appeal has issued an interim order in that respect.
Jeanne Samuel (Deputy Chairperson)
Over the past 40 years Jeanne has worked in the field of humanitarian aid and development in Sri Lanka and Vietnam with local and international NGOs, bilateral aid agency and the United Nations High Commission for Refugees. She has managed and directed programs and projects in varied fields. She graduated at the London South Bank University, UK in Applied Biology and has a Master’s degree in conflict, security and development from the University of Bradford, UK. She has spent her working life with the physically challenged, children, affected by armed conflict, internally displaced persons, women headed-households in addition to community development, livelihood initiatives and building capacities of local grass roots organizations. She served as a Consultant to The Asia Foundation on the implementation of the Language Policy in Sri Lanka and to the SPICE Project funded by USAID. She was a Board Member at the Centre for Policy Alternatives and a Trustee at the Neelan Tiruchelvam Trust.
Mr. S. C. C. Elankovan has received degrees in Philosophy and Law, as well as a Masters in Public Administration from the University of Madras. He worked with OfERR an organization of Refugees working with refugees – having himself spent 17 years as a refugee in India. Mr. Elankovan has worked in the NGO sector for the last 30 years, 23 of which have been spent in Sri Lanka, working for organizations such as Sarvodaya, ZOA and Oxfam in varied capacities in the areas of community rehabilitation and development, working among refugees, IDPs and war affected communities in Sri Lanka. He is particularly interested in the area of sustainable community development, which includes the education, skills development and livelihoods of war-affected vulnerable groups and has been involved in advocacy initiatives on the same.
Mr. Elankovan is presently a Consultant to the Chelvanayakam Memorial Foundations and has unpaid affiliations with the Chelvanayakam Memorial Trust, Organization for Integrated and Sustainable Development Kilinochchi, NECTA Lanka and The Research Institution Steering Team among others. He has also undertaken short term consultancies for GiZ in Sri Lanka.
Pavithra Kailasapathy is a Professor in Human Resources Management at the Faculty of Management & Finance, University of Colombo. She is currently Head of the Department of Human Resources Management. She graduated from the University of Colombo with BBA degree and has Master’s degrees from the New School for Social Research, New York and the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, USA and PhD from the University of Melbourne, Australia. From 2013 Pavithra is an Associate Editor of the South Asian Journal of Human Resources Management (Sage Publishers). Pavithra’s area of interest for research is gender issues in organisations.
Pavithra is an Associate member of Institute of Personnel Management Sri Lanka and was a member of the IPM Council in 2002/3. She was a Director of the Board of Women’s Education and Research Centre, Colombo, and Step-by-Step Studio, Colombo. She was also the Treasurer for 3 ½ years in
FUTA. Pavithra has conducted training for non-governmental organisations leaders and staff on personal development, organisation development and leadership development.
Sandun Thudugala holds a BSC on Management Information Systems from University of Dublin and a BA on Sociology from Open University of Sri Lanka. He has 20 years of experiences working with national and International NGOs and local civil society movements in Sri Lanka.
Sandun is one of the founding members of People’s Alliance for Right to Land (PARL). Currently he is serving as the Director Programs and Operations of Law and Society Trust (LST). In LST he leads current programs on land and labour rights, minority rights, governance reforms and women’s economic empowerment.
He is also serving as an Executive Committee member of Movement for Land and Agriculture Reforms (MONLAR) and Devasarana Development Centre.
A Sri Lankan finance and management professional, possessing full professional memberships in leading management and accounting bodies in the United Kingdom and Sri Lanka, and holding a Master of Business Administration degree from the University of Essex, United Kingdom.
Has served in Sri Lanka and in Bahrain, with short stints in Singapore, the Maldives and the United Kingdom, during his almost 3 decades of progressive and extensive work experience, from entry level to senior management levels.
A significant component of work experience has been in banking, finance, investment and energy sectors.
Farhaz is well versed in setting and driving strategy and change; management of internal and external stakeholders; and regulator, vendor and customer relationship management. Recent successes at work include spearheading an overall transformation and change management process encompassing a number of functions and operations, including finance, accounting, IT, human resources, administration, and investments at the holding company for oil and gas assets in Bahrain. During this tenure, a new corporate strategy was formulated and implemented. This culminated with the Company raising over USD3 billion of funding for its various diversification and modernization projects.
Prior to that, he spent over a decade at an investment bank, joining it when it was a fledgling start up and being a part of its growth to the largest financial institution in Bahrain at its peak, serving in the accounting, reporting, planning, controlling, compliance, system changeovers and integrations teams. His duties also included setting up functions and teams from scratch, designing policies and procedures, recruitment and training of staff and guiding them until these new teams are capable and self-sustaining.
Farhaz started his career at a Big 4 firm of accountants after which he moved to the banking sector.
He has recently returned to Sri Lanka and is in the process of settling back.
Camena Guneratne has an LL.B from the University of Colombo, an LL.M from Harvard Law School and a PhD from the University of Waikato, New Zealand. She is currently a Professor in the Dept. of Legal Studies of the Open University of Sri Lanka.
Her areas of interest are environment and development,human rights and gender and women’s rights. She has taught Environmental Law at several universities in Sri Lanka at both undergraduate and graduate level, and also teaches in the area of women’s rights. She has been involved with non-governmental organisations working in the fields of both gender and environment, serving on the Board of Directors of the Environmental Foundation Ltd and the Centre for Women’s Studies and is currently on the Board of the Women’s Education and Research Centre. She has served on many government committees on environmental law, human rights, women’s issues and legal education, and is presently a member of the Law Commission of Sri Lanka. She has done consultancies for the World Food Programme, the International Labour Organisation, and the Center for Environmental Research, Training and Information.
She is a Fulbright scholar and recipient of the Smuts Visiting Fellowship in Commonwealth Studies at the University of Cambridge.
Hana Ibrahim is the Editor in Chief of the Daily Express/Weekend Express, published by Express Newspapers Ceylon Ltd and Turning Points, an annual New York Times/Weekend Express co-branded magazine. A journalist by profession, she has a MS in Journalism and over 25 years local and international experience in the media industry. She is founder editor of Ceylon Today (Daily and Sunday) and the former editor of Sunday Standard; Senior Associate Editor, Sunday Observer and ‘friday’, a weekly tabloid, conceived and launched by her. She also worked as a journalist for a short period in the United States and for a longer period in the United Arab Emirates, for the Gulf News, covering a wide range of international issues, from the wars in Somalia and Bosnia to the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait and the subsequent war on Iraq. She has also interviewed a number of world leaders.
She is a co-convenor of South Asian Women in Media -SAWM and founder member of South Asia Media Solidarity Network – SAMSN; an Executive member of the Free Media Movement, and sits on the boards of the Sri Lanka College of Journalism and the Board of Media Law Forum.
Her areas of interest include ethical and professional journalism, responsible journalism, empowering women journalists, good newsroom practices, improving language skills and training young journalists.
Leo Fernando comes from an entrepreneurial, private equity and investment banking background. Leo is the founder of Travel Lanka Compass, a travel startup that consolidated all the functions associated in planning and booking a holiday, into one virtual platform. He was the first entrepreneur in Sri Lanka to launch a mobile app to capture a highly fragmented transportation industry.
Leo was CEO/Executive Director of Platinum Advisors, a boutique investment bank that focuses on M&A deal advisory and the Chief Investment Officer of Lanka Strategic Investments, a New York based preIPO/IPO private equity fund. As an investment research driven individual, with an absolute focus on exit strategy, he delivered above market returns for the fund. He was an analyst at Millennium Capital Management equity long/short hedge fund in Singapore and was responsible for identifying asset mispricing and trading opportunities across multiple industries in key markets across Asia (Australia, S.Korea, HK, Taiwan, India, Singapore).
Leo was vice-president at Amba Research and worked as an off-shore analyst for the European media sellside research team of a global investment bank in London. A notable achievement during this period was developing a commercially viable research product on accounting diagnostics and quality of earnings, for some of the large investment funds. Leo started his career at KPMG in Audit and going up to the position of Senior Manager, Internal Audit and Learning & Development.
Leo Fernando is a CFA Charterholder and a Chartered Accountant.
Senel Wanniarachchi is a Co-Founder and Director of Sri Lankan activist organisation Hashtag Generation. Currently, Senel is a PhD Researcher at the London School of Economics and Political Science. His research is interested in how discourse on ‘culture’ and ‘heritage’ get co-opted to legitimise anti-imperialist but also nationalist, ‘anti-gender’ and anti-human rights frameworks. Senel also sits on the board of the Innovation for Change South Asia Hub as well as on the South Asia Steering Committee for the Men Engage Alliance. Senel holds an MSc in Human Rights from the LSE which he followed on a Chevening Scholarship and a B.A. in International Relations from the University of Colombo. His research has appeared/ is set to appear in the Cultural Politics Journal and the Handbook on Contemporary Sri Lanka.