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Govt Debars Fact Finding Mission of International Bar Association Led by Former Indian Chief Justice Verma From Entering Sri Lanka

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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.

The IBAHRI delegation consisting of distinguished jurists was scheduled to visit Sri Lanka from 1st to 10th February 2013. A visa had been issued to one member of the delegation on 18th January 2013 and was revoked on 29th January 2013, while approval to enter the country was suspended in the cases of other delegates on 29th and 30th January 2013.

The Delegation was led by Former Indian Chief Justice Jagdish Sharan Varma and consisted of UK House of Lords Cross bench member Baroness Usha Prashar, IBA Human Rights Institute Program Lawyer Shane Keenan, and British Barrister working with the IBA’s Human Rights Institute Sadakat Kadri.

The high-level delegation had intended to conduct meetings and consult a wide diversity of stakeholders in regard to the development of the legal profession, the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary in Sri Lanka, including members of the legal profession, government, media and civil society.

The IBA commissioned fact-finding team was also planning to investigate and determine whether the Sri Lankan Government’s move to impeach Chief Justice Bandaranayake, in violation of rulings by the two highest courts of the land that the process was flawed, was an attempt by the regime to curb the independence of the Upper Judiciary.

The IBAHRI has expressed its serious concern to the Sri Lankan High Commission in London regarding the revocation and suspension of entry approval for its high-level delegates and looks forward to working together with the relevant authorities in ensuring a speedy and satisfactory resolution.

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