The International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI) welcomes the Sri Lankan High Commissioner to the United Kingdom’s recent public statement that IBAHRI representatives will be granted visas to enter Sri Lanka.
Made during a live interview, broadcast on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme on 30 April 2013, the comment follows the Sri Lankan authorities’ refusals on two occasions to accord individuals of high-level IBAHRI delegations entry to Sri Lanka to investigate the independence of the legal profession and the impeachment proceedings against Chief Chief Justice Bandaranayake.
In response to a direct question asking whether IBAHRI would be let in to Sri Lanka Dr Chris Nonis replied:
‘Yes, if they come in the official manner in which we or any institution of ours would apply to come to Britain.’ He added, ‘What we look forward to and what we invite is all of you, everyone, to come to Sri Lanka…and make an objective and impartial analysis of the reality of contemporary Sri Lanka.’
During the interview the Today programme’s journalist, Justin Webb, said:
‘Just on that point, because it’s such an important one isn’t it, because this is the association that represents lawyers right around the world, the International Bar Association – if their Human Rights Institute comes back to you and says, “This is what we would like to do, these are some top lawyers who would like to come to Sri Lanka…”They are obviously not visa risks, they are not going to engage in some abuse of the process…if they say what they want to do, will you let them in?’
Dr Nonis replied:
‘Naturally, if any institution is formally invited and has reciprocity with an institution there, as is done [in the UK], naturally of course we would’.
Dr Mark Ellis, Executive Director of the International Bar Association commented,
‘The International Bar Association has long-established links with Sri Lanka’s legal community and is taking a close interest in the independence of its legal profession. We welcome Dr Chris Nonis’ commitment to allow the IBA’s Human Rights Institute entry to Sri Lanka, paving the way for constructive conversations to facility what he describes as “impartial analysis of the reality of contemporary Sri Lanka’.
The full interview is available on the BBC website until 6 May. Click here to listen or read the transcript below;