Swiss in diplomatic offensive to save face, says top lawyer … govt. urged to set record straight
Posted on December 18th, 2019

By Shamindra Ferdinando Courtesy Island

December 18, 2019, 9:26 pm


President’s Counsel Manohara de Silva yesterday alleged that Switzerland was making a desperate attempt to shield its Ambassador in Colombo Hanspeter Mock in the wake of his abortive intervention on behalf of embassy staffer Garnia Bannister Francis.

Fort Chief Magistrate Lanka Jayaratne on Monday (16) remanded Garnia till Dec 30 for falsely claiming that she had been abducted and molested by a group of persons who sought information regarding Inspector Nishantha Silva, who was given political asylum, at a lightning speed.

The top constitutional lawyer said Garnia made the claim on Nov 25, within 24 hours after IP Silva accompanied by his wife and three children left for Switzerland.

Referring to a statement issued by the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs on Tuesday, Dec 17, PC de Silva said that he was quite surprised by the Swiss accusation that Sri Lanka hadn’t followed due process in respect of Garnia.

Having obstructed an investigation initiated in response to Ambassador Mock’s complaint to Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa on Nov 27, followed by a written complaint, the Swiss demanded that Sri Lanka should follow the national law and what they called international judicial standards.

Responding to a query, de Silva said that he sincerely hoped the government set the record straight without delay.

Pointing out that the Swiss issued its latest statement in the wake of Ambassador Mock meeting President Gotabaya Rajapaksa at the Presidential Secretariat on Dec 16, he said that Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs owed an explanation as what it meant by international judicial standards.

PC de Silva said that the Swiss had conveniently forgotten as to how they deliberately delayed the investigation after having claimed of Garnia’s abduction on Nov 27-two days after the purported incident. The civil society activist alleged the Swiss strategy was meant to move Garnia out in an air ambulance without her being subject to immigration formalities. But, the CID thwarted that move by moving court, PC de Silva said, pointing out that the police were given access to her only on Dec 08-14 days after the alleged abduction.

The senior lawyer urged the Foreign Ministry to examine the situation closely as the Swiss strategy was meant to overwhelm Sri Lanka by what he called a diplomatic onslaught. Responding to another query, PC de Silva said that the Swiss statement called for what they described as a common and constructive way forward to resolve the security incident and Ambassador Mock reiterated their stand again in a face-to-face meeting with President Gotabaya Rajapaksa.

PC de Silva said that the Swiss couldn’t be expected to settle this matter out of court. According to him, the Swiss desperately tried to side-step established procedures even at the expense of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations (1961).

Actually, there couldn’t be an issue over Garnia’s arrest as she was taken in by the police having received the Attorney General’s approval following a lengthy statement recorded at the CID, the President’s Counsel pointed out.

The government allowed a Swiss diplomat and a lawyer to be present though they weren’t allowed to intervene, PC Manohara said.

The government should examine whether the Swiss were making an effort to discourage Sri Lanka from raising them accommodating IP Silva in Swiss asylum programme while his actions were being questioned, PC de Silva said.

PC de Silva said that the Swiss warning that in this high-profile case Sri Lanka’s reputation as a country that upholds the rule of law was at stake should be challenged.

Foreign Secretary Ambassador Ravinatha Aryasinha and Defence Secretary Maj. Gen. Kamal Gunaratne on Dec 01 briefed Ambassador Mock of the findings. The probe proved beyond doubt that the claimed abduction never took place and the embassy employee even contradicted the place where the alleged incident took place, PC de Silva said.

De Silva urged the government to be vigilant as the Western powers obviously were hell-bent on undermining the new government.

The obvious question is whether Ambassador Mock was deceived by the embassy worker or whether he knew the planned drama, PC de Silva said.

One Response to “Swiss in diplomatic offensive to save face, says top lawyer … govt. urged to set record straight”

  1. Ratanapala Says:

    The ‘Big Picture’ in this situation should be looked at to understand this Swiss Embassy employee abduction case.

    The Big Picture is that Sri Lanka is already through many steps in getting closer to the MCC Agreement with the US. Although much has been done behind the back of the people and their representatives in the parliament of Sri Lanka, as far as the US is concerned it is already on its way to full implementation. Their moves are tectonic and surefooted. They like mining companies buy their land well ahead of time, settle land issues, local populace and settle any law issues before they commence mining the acquired resource. They plan well ahead of time and the US has a plan what Sri Lanka should like in 2050!

    Local politics in Sri Lanka necessitates political parties taking sides on issues to attract voters. Although the UNP went all out to get MCC approved, now that they are in the opposition Sajith Premadasa says he will tear it to pieces knowing very well he will at best be the Leader of the Opposition and will not be the one to handle it. However, the party in power have to go through what has already taken place and usually end up giving way to foreign pressure due to monetary considerations. At most what politicians do is buy time by appointing committees or commissions as delaying tactics till the populace too finally buckles in eventually.

    In this background, the Swiss Embassy Abduction Case fits the picture as one more measure designed to ‘soften’ Sri Lanka’s new administration to accept the MCC, which however one tries to sugarcoat it, is a military protocol to replace the Diego Garcia base with one in Sri Lanka. This, of course, is in addition to what they will have in Geneva in March 2020. This situation is developing fast due to the Chinese interest in the island and India’s myopic and selfish approach to regional issues.

    It is up to the new Gotabhaya Administration to charter an new course that will be more in tune with the emerging National Discourse which is more nationalistic. All depends on how the new administration will manage her foreign affairs. It would do well to have a team of well experienced and dedicated foreign policy advisors with the new President to stop him shooting from the ‘hip’ like what Mahinda did in India with his 13+ talk. In the absence of a well crafted foreign policy, it could very well be 1815 all over again and a very very long period of foreign domination. This time however there is no guarantee that the Sinhalese Buddhists will survive the onslaught or even stay around to tell the story!

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