Dismissing an application made by the Norwegian Ambassador to Sri Lanka, the Colombo District Court has declared that the Ambassador could be sued despite his diplomatic immunity.
The Court made this direction when action was filed against the Norwegian Ambassador demanding over Rs. 90 million.
The district judge Amali Ranaweera made this observation sequel to an action filed by a private institution namely Foundation for Co-Existence Guarantee Limited, in which Dr. Kumar Rupesinghe served as the Chief Executive Officer and carried out Norwegian and British funded projects.
The plaintiff had cited Norwegian Ambassador, Hilde Haraldstad, Norwegian Minister of Development Co-operation and Environment, Erik Solheim, Norwagian Foreign Affairs Minister, Jonas Gahr Store, former Counselor at the Norwegian Embassy in Colombo Edle Hamre and the British High Commissioner among others as defendants.
In June 2008, the British High Commission and the Norwegian Embassy had entered into an agreement with the plaintiff to carry out projects promoting peace and co-existence related work for a period from 2008 to 2011.
However following a ‘forensic audit,’ the Norwegian government had terminated the contract with the plaintiff and broken the agreement they had entered into.
The Norwegian Ambassador and other Norwegian foreign officials had cited the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations-1961 and argued that they were covered by the diplomatic immunity and they could not be sued in Sri Lanka.
Having gone through the submissions, the District Court dismissed the application made by the Norwegian Ambassador Hilde Haraldstad and three other officials of the Norwegian Foreign Affairs Ministry seeking entitlement for diplomatic immunity. (Susitha R. Fernando)