The Foreign Relations Ministry contemplates the deployment of a team of legal luminaries from the Attorney General’s Department to the United Kingdom to study the judgement given by a court there against one time Defence Attache of Sri Lankan Mission Brigadier Priyanka Fernando and appeal against it, a minister said yesterday.
A court in London convicted him in absentia under the Public Order Act and fined him on December 06. He was charged for making a threatening gesture during a protest by a group of LTTE sympathisers in London.
Foreign Relations Minister Dinesh Gunawardena told Daily Mirror yesterday that Sri Lanka maintained that Brigadier Fernando was entitled to diplomatic immunity. He said the Sri Lankan High Commission in London would seek a copy of the judgement to be studied by a team of lawyers from the Attorney General’s Department.
“We will assign the Attorney General to study it and appeal against it,” he said.
The judgement in was delivered by the Chief Magistrate of the Westminster Magistrates’ Court on December 06 under Section 4A of the Public Order Act of the UK.
After the judgement was announced, the Ministry issued a statement saying that the Sri Lankan Government continues to maintain that Brigadier Fernando as a diplomat who was attached to the Sri Lankan Mission was entitled to diplomatic immunity in terms of Article 31 of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations of 1961.
“In January 2019, at the time summons was first issued by the Magistrate’s Court of Westminster, the then British High Commissioner was summoned by the Foreign Secretary and a protest was lodged against the legal proceedings in British courts disregarding diplomatic immunities of Brigadier Priyanka Fernando in respect of the alleged incident.
A request was made through the British High Commission in Colombo that the Foreign and Commonwealth Office take necessary steps to ensure a review of the process, including the order of the Magistrate’s Court of Westminster to correct the Court’s misunderstanding of international law and the lapse on the part of the Court administration to bring to the attention of the magistrate the contents of the diplomatic note sent by the Government of Sri Lanka claiming immunity.
The Sri Lankan High Commissioner in London was also instructed to pursue the matter with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. The Government of the UK had been requested to honour this obligation, which is reciprocal,” the statement said. (Kelum Bandara)