Govt. defends denial of visas to world juristsView(s):
The Government yesterday defended its decision to refuse entry visas to a group of international jurists headed by India’s former Chief Justice J. S. Verma saying it was in the best interest of the country.
The three-member delegation from the International Bar Association Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI) was due to visit the country on Thursday on a seven-day fact finding mission related to the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary.
The visas were put on hold simply because the delegation had no official bearing on one hand and there was evidence to suggest that its activities
would be of a harmful nature to the interests of the country, Immigration and Emigration Chief Chulananda Perera said.
He said the decision was taken for the wellbeing of the country.
Mr. Perera said a close inspection on the activities of the three-member group indicated they had an agenda that was detrimental to the country.
“Therefore we decided to suspend their visit. Any country will do the same,” he said.External Affairs Ministry Secretary Karunatilleke Amunugama said he was not made aware of such a visit except for some reports in the Indian media.
However, according to other sources, the delegation was planning a ‘rapid response’ mission to report on the impeachment of Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake.
The IBAHRI, meanwhile, said in a statement that it had also planned to meet several stakeholders in the development of the legal profession regarding the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary in Sri Lanka.
The IBAHRI has expressed serious concern to the Sri Lankan High Commission in London regarding the suspension of the visas adding that it was prepared to work together with the relevant authorities in seeking a speedy and satisfactory resolution to the matter.
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