Sri Lanka has accused a delegation of international jurists led by former Chief Justice of India JS Verma of attempting to undermine its sovereignty and violating visa norms.
"Regrettably the government of Sri Lanka was constrained to withdraw visas issued through the Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) system for 3 applicants and the other by a diplomatic mission," the external affairs ministry in Colombo said in a statement.
The delegation representing London-based International Bar Association (IBA) were to visit Sri Lanka from February 1 to 10 to assess rule of law and 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 by a 4-member delegation to Sri Lanka.
The ministry said the delegation had applied for Business Visa category and visas 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 in the applications was not in conformity with the actual nature of the visit", the ministry said.
"Considering the prestigious reputation of the IBA, it would be expected that the organisation would scrupulously adhere to the rules and regulations governing a country's visa regime", it said.