Ayesha Kumararatne is a barrister and solicitor based in Ottawa, Canada. She runs a boutique law practice focused on immigration and criminal law.
Ayesha runs a busy practice in downtown Ottawa focused on immigration and criminal law and particularly their intersection. She regularly provides consultations, independent legal advice and legal opinions for court purposes regarding immigration consequences for criminally accused persons.
Ayesha is passionate about defending the status and rights of vulnerable persons. She is particularly vigorous in defending persons in detention on immigration holds, refugee claimants, and persons suffering from mental health issues who are at risk of losing their status or being removed from Canada.
Ayesha strongly believes in advocacy that goes beyond her individual cases. As a result, outside of work, Ayesha is a regular speaker at various law conferences, including the DCAO Annual Criminal Law Conference (2015), the Criminal Lawyers Association Annual Women in Criminal Law Conference (2017) and the Ottawa Immigration Law Conference (2018-2019). She also frequently speaks at the University of Ottawa’s law school on issues ranging from access to justice to mentorship of young lawyers and law students. She has further volunteered with several initiatives including improving conditions at the Ottawa-Carleton Detention Centre for immigration detainees, finding alternatives to detention in Ottawa for immigration detainees and providing comments as a private practitioner on policy developments in criminal and immigration law. Ayesha more recently testified before the Senate of Canada on Bill C-45 and provided comments on Bill C-46 on the impact of these bills on permanent residents and foreign nationals.
Ayesha has represented a wide a range of clients, including foreign diplomats, national and international athletes, small and big businesses, religious institutions, political activists and every day families and individuals.
She handles all types of immigration matters ranging from visitor visas and permanent residence applications to refugee claims and deportation appeals. Ayesha is particularly versed with tackling a wide range of serious immigration matters dealing with admissibility issues including serious criminality, allegations of war crimes, organized criminality and membership in excluded groups and complex refugee and appellate cases. She also enjoys processing family sponsorship applications, including spousal sponsorships, and reuniting family members.
Ayesha appears at all levels of the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada as well as the Federal Court of Canada on immigration and refugee law matters.
Ayesha appears regularly before the Ontario Court of Justice and has also appeared in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice on criminal defence matters. Ayesha has assisted in trials ranging from attempted murder and armed robbery to domestic violence and sexual assault. She is particularly interested in representing individuals criminally charged for regulatory offences under the Customs Act and the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. She has also provided evidence in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice on Canadian immigration law and is regularly called upon to provide independent legal advice on immigration consequences for individuals charged with serious criminal offences.
Ayesha also has experience in international criminal justice issues. While in law school, she worked in The Hague analyzing proceedings before the International Criminal Court and other international courts and tribunals, which sparked her interest in criminal law. She has also worked on international justice issues in New York and Colombo (Sri Lanka).
Ayesha completed her B.A. in Political Science and Human Rights at Carleton University as summa cum laude. She attended law school at the University of Ottawa. While at law school, Ayesha was awarded the International Commission of Jurists (Canada section) prize for Outstanding Achievement in International Human Rights Law for having the highest academic standing in this subject.
She is fluent in Sinhalese and has a working proficiency in French and Italian.
Professional memberships and affiliations:
Law Society of Ontario, licensed member of the Bar
DCAO (Defence Counsel Association of Ottawa), member
CLA (Criminal Lawyers' Association), member
CARL (Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers), member
RLA (Refugee Lawyers' Association), member
CCLA (County of Carleton Law Association), Membership Committee member
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) working group on detention issues in Ottawa, Committee member