Colombo: Calling it a “direct threat” to its sovereignty, Sri Lanka on Thursday said it will “never” allow the entry of a delegation of international lawyers led by former chief justice of India JS Verma to probe the controversial impeachment of the country’s first woman chief justice.
“They will never be allowed entry for fact-finding missions, they can come as tourists”, Keheliya Rambukwella, government spokesman and the Minister of Information said.
“The IBA (International Bar Association) visit if allowed would be a direct threat to Sri Lanka’s sovereignty”, he said.
Delegates from the IBA’s Human Rights Institute led by Justice Verma were scheduled to visit Sri Lanka from February 1-10 but were denied entry visas by Sri Lankan authorities.
The government said the IBA members had given false reasons on the purpose of their visit when applying for their entry visa at the Sri Lankan mission in London.
The IBA rejecting the allegation said that they had ticked the relevant box which implied that their visit was to attend conferences and seminars, adding that the electronic entry application does not provide for giving ‘other’ reasons to visit Sri Lanka.
The delegation was to assess rule of law and independence of the judiciary after the controversial impeachment of the country’s first woman chief justice Shirani Bandaranayake by the parliament last month that received international criticism.
The parliamentary committee had ruled that Bandaranayake was guilty of three of the 14 charges in the impeachment proceedings moved against her by the ruling UPFA coalition legislators.
The three charges were of financial impropriety based on non-declaration of assets and conflict of interest in a case involving a failed investment company.