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Sri Lanka slammed for spiking visit by jurists

Posted on Feb 06, 09:46PM | IANS

New Delhi, Feb 6 : The International Bar Association's Human Rights Institute Wednesday said it was "seriously concerned" over Sri Lanka's decision to block a team of jurists into the country.

Among those barred included J.S. Verma, a former chief justice of India. The team was expected to investigate the impeachment of Sri Lanka's first woman chief justice.

The visit was planned Feb 1-10 to meet members of the Sri Lankan legal profession, and representatives of government, media and civil society.

"It is disappointing that the Sri Lankan authorities have missed the opportunity to cooperate on a visit by respected foreign members of the legal system," the institute's executive director Mark S. Ellis said.

"It (suggests) that the Sri Lankan authorities are fearful of having independent eyes on the issues of interest to the legal profession."

The institute has conducted more than 40 investigations since 1995.

It said it had previously been refused entry to one other country, Fiji in 2008. Fiji was later suspended from the Commonwealth in 2009.

The International Bar Association, established in 1947, is the world's leading organisation of international legal practitioners, bar associations and law societies.