Sri Lanka slams foreign lawyers over impeachment probe
COLOMBO (AFP) – Sri Lanka on Sunday accused a London-based group of lawyers of undermining Colombo’s sovereignty and said a four-member team probing judicial independence was barred from entering the island.
The external affairs ministry said it revoked visas issued to members of the International Bar Association (IBA) because they “misrepresented” the objective of their visit to Sri Lanka.
The ministry in a statement said the four-member mission was going to undertake “activity surreptitiously which is of an intrusive nature to the sovereignty of Sri Lanka”. The IBA on Saturday expressed “serious concern” over the withdrawal of visas for lawyers from its Human Rights Institute who were due to visit Colombo for 10 days starting Friday.
The panel was going to study Sri Lanka’s sacking of chief justice Shirani Bandaranayake, the first woman to hold the nation’s highest judicial office.
The government dismissed Bandaranayake despite two Sri Lankan court rulings that the impeachment was illegal and unconstitutional.
Sri Lanka insists it followed proper legal procedures in firing Bandaranayake, 54, on charges of professional and personal misconduct.
Bandaranayake was dismissed by President Mahinda Rajapakse on January 13, two days after parliament voted to impeach her, despite a chorus of international criticism.