COLOMBO - Sri Lanka said on Sunday it would not allow into the country an international human rights panel due to visit after the government's controversial sacking of the chief justice.
A four-member delegation of the International Bar Association's Human Rights Institute was scheduled to be in Colombo on Feb. 1-10 to assess the country's rule of law after the removal of Shirani Bandaranayake, Sri Lanka's first woman head of the Supreme Court on Jan. 13.
President Mahinda Rajapaksa removed her from office, defying a Supreme Court ruling that the impeachment process was illegal, amid concerns raised by the United States, the United Nations and the Commonwealth.
Sri Lanka's External Affairs Ministry said on Sunday it had revoked the visas for the delegation after finding inaccurate information in the applications.
"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 external affairs ministry said in a statement.
On Saturday, the legal panel said its delegation was forced to postpone its visit due to the last-minute withdrawal of permission to enter the country.
Sri Lanka's decision could irk some Western nations including the United States, which have been demanding that Rajapaksa's government address human rights violations in the final phase of a three-decade war that ended in May, 2009.