Sri Lanka blocks entry of jurists

Last Updated: Sat, Feb 02, 2013 13:20 hrs

New Delhi, Feb 2 (IANS) The International Bar Association has expressed concern over the postponement of its Human Rights Institute delegation's visit to Colombo because permission to enter the country was revoked at the last minute.

"An International Bar Association's Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI) delegation has been forced to postpone a planned visit to Sri Lanka to assess the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary due to the last minute withdrawal of permission to enter the country," an IBAHRI statement said Saturday.

The visit of the delegation, which was to be led former chief justice of India J.S. Verma, assumed significance as it was to look into the impeachment of Sri Lankan chief justice Shirani Bandaranayake.

Amidst protests and international concern, Bandaranayake was impeached by the Sri Lankan parliament Jan 11. Two days later, Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse dismissed her as the head of the top court. Former attorney general Mohan Peiris was picked by Rajapakse to replace Bandaranayke.

The IBAHRI delegation comprising eminent jurists was scheduled to visit Sri Lanka for 10 days starting Feb 1. A visa was issued to one member of the delegation Jan 18, 2013, which was revoked Jan 29. The permission for the entry of other delegates in Sri Lanka was suspended Jan 29 and 30, the IBAHRI statement said.

The London-based IBAHRI has expressed its serious concern to the Sri Lankan High Commission in London regarding the revocation and suspension of entry of its high-level delegation.

However the statement said that IBAHRI is looking forward to work with the concerned authorities for ensuring a speedy and satisfactory resolution of the hurdles in the visit of the IBAHRI's delegation to Sri Lanka.

The International Bar Association (IBA), established in 1947, is the world's leading organisation of international legal practitioners, bar associations and law societies. Its membership includes over 45,000 lawyers and more than 200 bar associations and law societies spanning every continent.

The IBA influences the development of international law reform and shapes the future of the legal profession throughout the world.

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