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Sri Lanka detains legislators from Australia and New Zealand

PTI | Last Updated: Sunday, November 10, 2013 - 22:25

Colombo: An Australian Senator and a MP from New Zealand on a fact-finding mission into reported human rights abuses in Sri Lanka were briefly detained on Sunday by authorities here for allegedly violating visa regulations.

Senator Lee Rhiannon from New South Wales was preparing to host a press conference with New Zealand MP Jan Logie at their Colombo hotel when the pair had their passports seized by immigration officials.

Sri Lanka`s immigration chief Chulananda Perera said that Rhiannon and Logie were quizzed for being involved in media related activities having arrived here on tourist visas.

The lawmakers have attended a series of pro-democracy meetings and met Tamil activists this morning. Tamil National Alliance( TNA) lawmaker Shiva Shakthi Anandan said Rhiannon has discussed state of minority Tamils in the island nation.

Reports claimed that the duo also travelled to the island`s former northern war zone to look into cases of human rights abuses, four years after government forces crushed Tamil rebels to end a decades-long separatist war.

The two MPs were released after questioning and have departed to the airport.
The move came less than two weeks after two Australian women activists were deported by Sri Lankan authorities for attending a media workshop while on tourist visas.

The incident comes ahead of this week`s Commonwealth Heads of Governments Meeting here. Both Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott and New Zealand Prime Minister John Key are to attend the summit.

Sri Lanka faced censure at the UN Human Rights Council over its failure to probe allegations that up to 40,000 civilians were killed by its troops in the final months of the battle with Tamil rebels in 2009, charges the country has denied.

First Published: Sunday, November 10, 2013 - 22:25

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