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Swiss sends top diplomat team to SL

20 December 2019 08:17 am - 11     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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While expressing the regret at the decision by the examining magistrate to place the Swiss local employee concerned in pre-trial detention, Switzerland said that it has sent former ambassador Jörg Frieden to Sri Lanka to investigate the security incident at the Swiss Embassy in Colombo. 

“Under the lead of this experienced diplomat, possibilities for clarifying the security incident at the Swiss Embassy in Colombo are to be explored,” Switzerland Foreign Minister (Federal Councillor) Ignazio Cassis said.

”Mr Gunawardena met with Mr Mock and Mr Frieden today (19) in order to maintain a dialogue with a view to finding a solution.” the statement said.

Issuing a statement after a telephone conversation between Minister Cassis and Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena, Mr Cassis also expressed his regret at the decision by the examining magistrate to place the local employee concerned in pre-trial detention, where the conditions do not take into account her state of health in any way. 

He, therefore, asked Mr Gunawardena to transfer her to a more appropriate location, such as a hospital, on humanitarian grounds. Switzerland considers the Sri Lankan authorities to be responsible for the health and safety of all its embassy staff.

Full statement 

Switzerland is continuing high-level talks with Sri Lanka to resolve the current crisis. Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis phoned his Sri Lankan counterpart, Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena, on 18 December 2019 to inform him that Switzerland was sending former ambassador Jörg Frieden to Sri Lanka. Under the lead of this experienced diplomat, possibilities for clarifying the security incident at the Swiss embassy in Colombo are to be explored. Mr Cassis also emphasised that the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) considers the health and safety of its staff to be paramount and that it is the responsibility of the Sri Lankan authorities to ensure that these are protected in the further proceedings.

During his telephone conversation with Mr Gunawardena, Mr Cassis outlined Switzerland's position. The security incident has severely affected the health of the local staff member of the Swiss embassy in question. In its capacity as an employer, the FDFA prioritises the health and safety of all its staff. To this end, Mr Cassis noted that the Sri Lankan authorities are responsible for ensuring that the health and safety of FDFA staff are protected, which includes the embassy employee involved in the current proceedings. 

Mr Cassis also expressed his regret at the decision by the examining magistrate to place the local employee concerned in pre-trial detention, where the conditions do not take into account her state of health in any way. He, therefore, asked Mr Gunawardena to transfer her to a more appropriate location, such as a hospital, on humanitarian grounds. Switzerland considers the Sri Lankan authorities to be responsible for the health and safety of all its embassy staff.

The Swiss ambassador in Colombo, Hanspeter Mock, had already underlined at a meeting on Tuesday with the Sri Lankan Attorney General that in this high-profile case, Sri Lanka's reputation as a country that upholds the rule of law was at stake.

Looking for constructive solutions

During his telephone conversation with Mr Gunawardena, 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.

Mr Cassis emphasised that Switzerland was keen to clarify the incident together with the Sri Lankan authorities, which is why an experienced diplomat, former ambassador Jörg Frieden, had been sent to Colombo. Mr Frieden is expected to explore possible solutions in communication with the Sri Lankan authorities, and thus lend support to the Swiss embassy. This additional contact at the diplomatic level is also intended to strengthen the basis of trust between Switzerland and Sri Lanka. 

Following his telephone conversation with Mr Cassis, Mr Gunawardena met with Mr Mock and Mr Frieden today in order to maintain dialogue with a view to finding a solution. The Swiss ambassadors stressed that in the present case, the principle of the presumption of innocence applies and that the health and safety of its embassy staff take priority. 

Switzerland wishes to maintain close relations with Sri Lanka and support the country as it moves forward.

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  Comments - 11

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  • Patriortic Citizen Friday, 20 December 2019 08:47 AM

    Poor Swiss diplomats...! They never expected that this story would go wrong and slap back at them like a boomerang. Plot to tarnish the image of SL in Geneva in March 2020 is becoming an utter failure so far...

    Employee Friday, 20 December 2019 08:49 AM

    A lesson to all EMPLOYERS, support them when they are in unnecessary problems.

    Diplo-Mutt Friday, 20 December 2019 08:51 AM

    Jörg Frieden should also consider keeping the President in a safe location!!

    D de silva Friday, 20 December 2019 08:52 AM

    Looks like the Swiss has sent a cleaner to wipe the egg of Mock’s face.

    Anmanpan Friday, 20 December 2019 08:53 AM

    This is very interesting and my be happening for the first time in Sri Lanka history. I was watching a TV program which a leading presidential council participated and he pointed out that long interrogation which amounts to torture which is again international laws ( for which Sri Lanka has signed) and the Sri Lanka constitution.

    Hawkeye Friday, 20 December 2019 08:58 AM

    "Switzerland wishes to maintain close relations with Sri Lanka ..." Oh Lord ! ... protect us from our friends, we can take care of our enemies by ourselves !

    Asoka Friday, 20 December 2019 09:10 AM

    Hey Swiss people just take the mental case back to Switzerland! That will be one less mental case to deal with in Sri Lanka.

    Haramanis Friday, 20 December 2019 09:29 AM

    A nation of Nazi collaborators and thieves of Jewish property trying "diplomacy".

    Mm Friday, 20 December 2019 09:35 AM

    Don’t let them enter Sri Lanka

    charith seneviratne Friday, 20 December 2019 02:35 PM

    Do not let them enter Sri Lanka. Not VISA on arrival but arrest on arrival.The Swiss are not the authority on anything. They have enough of skeletons in their cupboards. The plot they hatched boomeranged and now the Swiss are in a soup. All other countries and their diplomats had better watch out. Our President is not puppet of the west like the bunch who was here for the last 4 years.

    ram Friday, 20 December 2019 04:41 PM

    countries that failed to prosecute war criminals will face similar problems


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