Swiss diplomat to intervene in Sri Lanka embassy abduction row
Posted on December 19th, 2019


The Swiss embassy worker, with pink shawl, being escorted to a court in Colombo.
The Swiss embassy worker, with pink shawl, being escorted to a court in Colombo.
(Keystone / Chamila Karunarathne)

Switzerland is sending an experienced diplomat to Sri Lanka in an effort to resolve the ongoing dispute about the treatment of an embassy worker in Colombo. Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis has also protested the detention of the female staff member by Sri Lanka.

The alleged abduction and intimidation of the Swiss embassy worker last month has resulted in a diplomatic spat between the two countries. It is alleged that the woman was threatened in order to force her to disclose embassy-related information”. This is believed to be connected to a high-ranking Sri Lankan police officer who fled to Switzerland to claim asylum.

Sri Lanka says it has evidence that contradicts the woman’s version of events. She has been blocked from leaving the country and was earlier this week arrested after being accused of fabricating her testimony.

On Wednesday, Cassis informed his Sri Lankan counterpart that Switzerland was sending over Jörg Friedenexternal link, a former ambassador to Nepal who has also held roles at the World Bank and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, in a bid to break the deadlock.

Cassis also said that he regrets” Sri Lanka’s decision to incarcerate the woman at the centre of the dispute and called on her to be transferred to a hospital on health and humanitarian grounds.

Switzerland considers the Sri Lankan authorities to be responsible for the health and safety of all its embassy staff,” read a Swiss statement on Thursday. Mr Cassis also pointed out that the high level of media coverage, lack of privacy safeguards and public condemnation in this case not only endangered Swiss embassy staff but also eroded the trust and confidence required to jointly clarify the incident.”

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