“Regrettably the Government of Sri Lanka was constrained to withdraw visas issued through the Electronic Travel Authorisation system for three applicants and the others by a diplomatic mission,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement Sunday.
The delegation representing London-based International Bar Association was to visit Sri Lanka from February 1 to 10 to assess independence of the judiciary after the controversial impeachment of the country’s first woman chief justice Shirani Bandaranayake by the parliament last month.
“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,” the statement said accusing IBA of “unilaterally” scheduling a visit.
The ministry said the delegation had applied for Business Visas, which were issued on the basis of the purpose of the visit being reflected as conferences, workshops and seminars.
“Subsequently, it came to light that the stated purpose for the visit was not in conformity with its actual nature,” the ministry said. “Considering the reputation of the IBA, it would be expected that the organisation would scrupulously adhere to rules and regulations governing a country’s visa regime.”