Govt. rejects Swiss embassy’s request for its local staffer to fly to Switzerland for treatment

December 05, 2019

•    Says under Immigration and Emigration Act no Sri Lankan can travel abroad without providing a name, a passport or even proof of citizenship.

•    Assures full protection to the victim

•    Claims the victim’s ill-health examined via a video link

The government had rejected the request from the Swiss Embassy to allow the local female staffer, who claimed that she was allegedly abducted by unidentified men and threatened to disclose embassy information, to be flown out of the country for medical treatment, yesterday.

Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena said that under prevailing law of the country- the provisions of the Immigration and Emigration Act – a Sri Lankan national could not travel abroad without providing a name, a passport or even proof of citizenship.

"Without any statement, name or national identity of this person, and not knowing who this person is, she cannot be allowed to leave the country as requested by the Embassy," he said.

According to Minister Gunawardena, the Ministry had already informed the matter to the Swiss Embassy.

Early this week, the Embassy claimed that her health was deteriorating and requested the government to allow the employee and her family to travel in a special ambulance aircraft to a hospital in Switzerland.

Addressing a special media conference at the Ministry, Minister Gunawardena said the sequence of events in connection with the incident attempted to give a wrong picture of newly-elected President Gotabaya Rajapaksa.

Meanwhile, Minister Gunawardena said the government was still hopeful of getting Swiss Embassy’s support in the on-going investigation into the alleged claim on abduction of a local staffer of the Swiss Embassy.

He said the government had commenced an immediate investigation to probe into the alleged incident following the details provided by the Swiss Ambassador Hanspeter Mock but there were serious discrepancies regarding the details of the alleged incident given by the Swiss Ambassador and the sequence of events obtained through phone records, Uber taxi records and CCTV footage etc obtained by the CID.

Assuring protection to the female worker in question, Minister Gunawardena requested her and her family to make statements to the Police to proceed with the investigation.

The Foreign Ministry had summoned all Ambassadors and High Commissioners to the Foreign Ministry yesterday to update them on the progress of the on-going investigation following the complaint made by the Swiss Ambassador regarding alleged abduction incident on November 25.

“It was brought to our notice on the November 27. The Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa whom met us at the Foreign Ministry on the same day, have assured the Swiss Embassy that we would abide by all the diplomatic immunity and all the respective processes that have been adopted in relation to such situations,” Minister Gunawardena said.

Foreign Ministry Secretary Ravinatha Aryasinha said the Swiss Embassy had informed them that the alleged victim had been medically examined via video link.

 “We have not been notified whether any local doctor had examined the alleged victim but on last Sunday, there was a report given by a doctor in Switzerland who had examined the so called patient via video link and made some observations.”

Secretary Aryasinha said the Sri Lankan Ambassador in Berne had explained the country’s legal procedure and notified the Swiss authorities to allow the victim to provide a statement first to proceed with the investigation.