Monday, 23 December 2019 06:19

Swiss Embassy staffer’s abduction saga takes a new turn

The Swiss Embassy staffer’s abduction saga takes a new turn with the deployment of special envoy to mediate into the issue after a month of the incident placing Bern and Colombo in a deadlock.

Switzerland has deployed a special envoy to Sri Lanka as controversy over an incident involving a local employee continues.

The Swiss Federal Council said that Switzerland is continuing high-level talks with Sri Lanka to resolve the current crisis.

The Council noted that Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis had telephoned 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, news agency reports said.

Under the watchful eye of this experienced diplomat, possibilities for clarifying the security incident at the Swiss embassy in Colombo are to be explored.

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 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 its entire staff, news reports revealed.

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.

He 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.
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.


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