Feb 03, Colombo: The Sri Lankan government today clarified the reason for cancelling the visa issued for a delegation of international lawyers scheduled to arrive in the country on a fact-finding mission to probe the impeachment of the chief justice.
Issuing a statement the External Affairs Ministry said the authorities had detected that the four members of the delegation representing the International Bar Association (IBA), had provided inaccurate information on their visa applications.
Former Chief Justice of India J.S. Verma was to lead the four-member delegation organized by the International Bar Association to probe the impeachment process.
Following the detection of inaccurate information contained in the visa applications of the 4 member delegation, which had unilaterally scheduled a visit to Sri Lanka, the government was constrained to withdraw visas issued through the ETA system for 3 applicants and the other by a diplomatic mission, the statement said.
Three members of the delegation have applied for visa in the Business Visa category which is issued for the purpose of attending Conferences, Workshops and Seminars, while the 4th person had been issued a gratis visa and the purpose of the visit being cited as Private.
The government has later learnt that the stated purpose for the visit in the applications was not in conformity with the actual nature of the visit.
The Ministry said the authorities learnt through media reports the delegation is visiting Sri Lanka on a fact-finding mission with a mandate to probe and prepare a report on the recent impeachment of the former Chief Justice.
Further, one of the delegates on the record has stated that the delegation would be interviewing, in this regard, members of the Judiciary, Government functionaries, Members of Parliament and the local community.
The External Affairs Ministry said the statement demonstrated that the visit was not for the purpose of attending Conferences, Workshops and Seminars but undertaking activity surreptitiously which is of an intrusive nature to the sovereignty of Sri Lanka.
"Considering the prestigious reputation of the IBA, it would be expected that the organization would scrupulously adhere to the rules and regulations governing a country's visa regime," the Ministry said.
The Ministry slammed the "intimidatory behavior" by one of the IBA delegates directed at the Sri Lanka High Commission in London as "unbecoming".
"In keeping with the Government of Sri Lanka's interest in transparency, bona-fide applications for visits of this nature are processed with objectivity. However, in keeping with universal practice, appropriate action would be taken in the event there is a misrepresentation of information by a visa applicant," the Ministry statement said.