The External Affairs Ministry today said in a statement that it rejected issuing visas to four members of the International Bar Association (IBA), who scheduled to travel to Sri Lanka for violating the country’s visa regulations.
The statement said: “Following the detection of inaccurate information contained in the visa applications of the four member delegation representing the International Bar Association (IBA), which had unilaterally scheduled a visit to Sri Lanka, regrettably the Government of Sri Lanka was constrained to withdraw visas issued through the ETA system for three applicants and the other by a diplomatic mission, the ministry said in a statement.
“It may be noted that the Business Visa category which had been applied for in the case of three persons were issued on the basis of the purpose of the visit being reflected as Conferences, Workshops and Seminars, while the 4th person had been issued a gratis visa and the purpose of the visit being cited as Private,” it said.
“Subsequently, it came to light that the stated purpose for the visit in the applications was not in conformity with the actual nature of the visit. In fact, there were media reports to the effect that this is an international fact finding delegation with a mandate to probe and prepare a report on the recent impeachment of the former Chief Justice.
“Further, one of the delegates is on record stating that the delegation would be interviewing, in this regard, members of the Judiciary, Government functionaries, Members of Parliament and the local community. This demonstrates 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. Further, intimidatory behavior on the part of one of the IBA delegates directed at the Sri Lanka High Commission in London is 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,” it said.
However, the ministry said that in keeping with universal practice, appropriate action would be taken in the event there is a misrepresentation of information by a visa applicant.