Colombo Telegraph

Lanka Revokes Visas For Impeachment Fact Finding Mission From International Bar Association

By Colombo Telegraph

A high level delegation from the International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI) has been forced to postpone a planned visit to Colombo to assess the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary after a last minute withdrawal of permission to enter the country, a media release from the Institute said moments ago.

Chief Justice J.S. Verma

The IBAHRI delegation consisting of distinguished jurists that was tipped to be led by former Indian Chief Justice J.S. Verma, was scheduled to arrive in Colombo on 1 February for a 10 day visit.

“A visa had been issued to one member of the delegation on 18th January 2013 and was revoked on 29th January 2013, while approval to enter the country was suspended in the cases of other delegates on 29th and 30th January 2013,” the IBAHRI press office said.

It said the Institute had expressed its serious concern to the Sri Lankan High Commission in London regarding the revocation and suspension of entry approval for its delegation and “looks forward to working together with the relevant authorities in ensuring a speedy and satisfactory resolution.

The IBAHRI delegation had intended to conduct meetings and consult a wide diversity of stakeholders in regard to the development of the legal profession, the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary in Sri Lanka, including members of the legal profession, government, media and civil society.

The delegation was to be headed by Justice Verma, and comprise UK House of Lords Member Baroness Usha Prashar, IBA Human Rights Institute Programme Lawyer, Shane Keenan and a British Barrister working with the IBA’s Human Rights Institute, Sadakat Kadri.

The respected Indian Jurist told the Indian press a few hours ago that he had decided against heading the delegation. Diplomatic sources said a problem had arisen with regard to the visas, but Verma reportedly denied the claim. Justice Verma recently headed a panel that concluded a report on Crimes Against Women in the aftermath of the Delhi gang rape last month.

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