Colombo, December 18 (newsin.asia): Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena has told the Swiss government that the Lankan authorities and its judiciary are going by national and international law in dealing with the alleged abduction of a Sri Lankan employee of the Swiss embassy here.
A press release issued by the Lankan Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Wednesday said that Foreign Minister Gunawardena received a telephone call from the Foreign Minister of Switzerland Ignazio Cassis regarding the status of the Sri Lankan employee at the Swiss Embassy, Ms. Garnier Banister Francis.
She is presently in custody on reasonable suspicion of committing offenses under Sections 120 and 190 of the Penal Code, that could justify a criminal charge of disaffection towards the government, and fabricating false evidence for the purpose of being used in any stage of a judicial proceeding, in her alleged abduction claim.
Considering the good bilateral relations between the two countries, the Swiss Minister requested that all possible cooperation be extended to expedite the process.
Gunawardena said that the subject of the alleged “abduction” is a Sri Lankan citizen, and that the matter is presently in Court and assured that the Government of Sri Lanka will do whatever it can according to the law of the land. He re-affirmed that Ms. Francis has been granted all possible facilities and that all her rights have been protected.
Referring to the Swiss Foreign Ministry statement of Tuesday 17 December, the Lankan Foreign Minister emphasized that Sri Lanka has fully complied with national law and international judicial standards, and that any assertion to the contrary is factually inaccurate.
He detailed the steps taken from the time the incident was first reported, through the presentation of Ms. Francis by the Swiss Embassy to the CID 13 days since the alleged incident, to the present, and emphasized that due process has been adhered to at each step, in keeping with international norms respected by both countries.
Reaffirming the commitment to consolidate bilateral relations, Minister Gunawardena agreed that the Foreign Ministry will continue to engage in further discussions in this regard, with the Swiss Ambassador in Colombo.
Swiss Stand Unchanged
In a press release on Monday, the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) said: “ An employee of the Swiss embassy in Colombo has been taken into custody today for alleged false statements. The FDFA is concerned about this decision.”
“It demands that the Sri Lankan judicial authorities ensure that the personal rights of its employees are better protected and that national law and international standards are complied with in the further proceedings.”
“The FDFA and the Swiss embassy in Colombo will continue to fulfill their responsibilities as employers and will support employees to the extent possible.”
“The local employee of the Swiss embassy was reportedly detained in Colombo on November 25, 2019 against her will to disclose internal information. During the proceedings, the victim and the Swiss embassy cooperated fully with the Sri Lankan authorities. The FDFA has repeatedly requested compliance with the rule of law. In particular, the FDFA criticized the 30-hour survey over three days despite the poor health of the embassy staff and the public questioning of their descriptions by senior Sri Lankan officials before the end of the investigation.”
“After arresting its employees, the FDFA expects the Sri Lankan judiciary to comply with its own legal requirements, to comply with international standards for proper procedures and to protect personal rights better than before.”
“ As an employer, the FDFA requires the Sri Lankan authorities to perform their duties in accordance with applicable law and to take into account the unstable health of employees.”
“Switzerland emphasizes that in this exemplary case, Sri Lanka’s reputation as a constitutional state is at stake.
The FDFA and the Swiss embassy in Colombo will continue to support their employees wherever possible.”
“The FDFA has repeatedly told the Sri Lankan authorities that it is looking for a common and constructive way to resolve the security incident. On December 16, 2019, the Swiss ambassador to Colombo also underlined this in a direct conversation with Sri Lanka’s President Gotabaya Rajapaksa.”
Ms.Francis has been remanded by a court till December 30 .This followed several days and hours of preliminary questioning by the CID which had revealed that she had told a string of lies about the alleged incident.
The police, who had her examined by a psychiatrist, are apparently wanting to know her true intention for cooking up the story and if she had been part of a group of conspirators with a yet unknown objective.
The Swiss Ambassador Hanspeter Mock had met Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa on Monday and this is what the Presidential media unit put out after the meeting:
“Conveying warm congratulations to the President over his recent election victory on his and his government’s behalf, the Ambassador said that he especially appreciated President Rajapaksa’s remark that “he is the President of all Sri Lankans”. “Switzerland is happy that traditional relations with Sri Lanka remain strong and mutually beneficial”.
“Focusing his attention on recent incident involving a locally recruited official of the Swiss Embassy, Mr. MOCK stressed that Switzerland harboured no intention to do any harm to Sri Lanka.”
“We wish to work together for the benefit of both countries. Also we need to overcome this situation of tension and to remove any misunderstanding,” the Swiss Ambassador said.
In response President Rajapaksa explained to the Ambassador the progress of investigations in to the incident so far.
“It is very well established by now that the alleged abduction is a total fabrication. Irrefutable evidence such as Uber reports, telephone conversations and CCTV footages point to this fact. The Embassy official must have been compelled by some interested parties to bring myself and my government in to disrepute. It is not clear why the alleged victims acted in such a manner,” President observed.
President Rajapaksa said that he saw no wrong in the initial reaction by the Swiss Embassy when this incident was first reported. “It is justifiable. If a member of its staff is in trouble, the Embassy has to intervene”.
The President requested the Ambassador to cooperate with the government to conduct the investigation to its end so that the truth would emerge.
(The featured image at the top shows Swiss Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis)