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Lankan Defence Attaché controversy Brigadier Fernando risks losing diplomatic immunity

Lankan Defence Attaché controversy Brigadier Fernando risks losing diplomatic immunity

The Minister Counsellor (Defence), attached to the Sri Lankan High Commission in London, is at risk of losing diplomatic immunity.

Brigadier Priyanka Fernando, who has become a controversial character, following his infamous...... throat cutting gesture, aimed at those involved in a protest conducted in front of the Sri Lanka High Commission on 4 February, when Sri Lanka celebrated its 70th Independence Day, is at risk of losing diplomatic immunity in the United Kingdom (UK) if the ongoing investigation, by the London Police, into the incident, finds him guilty.

In the wake of the incident, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs suspended him from his post until the local (Sri Lankan) investigations into the matter were concluded. However, President Maithripala Sirisena revoked the suspension and restored Fernando's position.

According to the Sri Lanka Army, they are awaiting the results of an inquiry conducted into the matter by the Ministry, subsequent to the release of the findings of which, the Army would initiate its own probe.

Despite the Sri Lankan Government's attitude regarding the issue, it seems like the UK considers it as serious.

If UK Police find him guilty, there is a possibility that the UK Government will withdraw Brigadier Fernando's diplomatic immunity. According to the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, there is a possibility of removing the diplomatic immunity of any officer of a sending country is the sole prerogative of the receiving country.

However, local experts on international law, such as President's Counsel (PC) Nigel Keith Hatch, who appeared for the respondent-appellant in The British High Commission v. Ricardo Wilhelm Michael Jansen case (SC Appeal No. 99/2012), do not consider that in this instance there is a serious risk of Brigadier Fernando losing diplomatic immunity and being declared 'persona non grata' and thereby being expelled from British soil. The possibility of such a turn of events taking place is minimum they say.

"In the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, there is provision to expel a diplomatic officer from a receiving country after naming the said officer in question as a 'persona non grata'. They can also cancel the diplomatic immunity. But persona non grata generally applies for diplomatic personnel who committed grave crimes and persons who unnecessarily interfere with the affairs of a receiving country. However, in this case we don't think that the UK Government will resort to such action like declaring Brigadier Fernando 'persona non grata'," President's Counsel Hatch said.

(Ceylon Today)

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