By Sulochana Ramiah Mohan
The Foreign Affairs Ministry yesterday (24) said that British High Commissioner James Dauris had assured that he would promptly convey the concerns raised by the Government of Sri Lanka (GoSL) to his Government, and that it was his understanding that the warrant against former Minister Counsellor Defence, attached to the Lankan diplomatic mission in the United Kingdom (UK), Brigadier Priyanka Fernando, will be withdrawn.
Foreign Secretary Ravinatha Aryasinha yesterday requested the British High Commission to take necessary steps to ensure a review of the process including the order of the Magistrate’s Court … of Westminster, Manchester to correct the Court’s misunderstanding of International Law with regard to the arrest.
At a meeting, held at the Ministry premises in the afternoon, between Aryasinha and Dauris, the former had raised the issue relating to the summons by the Court and the arrest warrant without bail on Brigadier Fernando.
Brigadier Fernando was found guilty, by the Magistrate’s Court on 21 January, of two of three offences under the Public Order Act (Sections 5 and 4a). The offences were that his actions were threatening and caused harassment to those who were protesting in front of the Sri Lanka’s Mission in the UK on 4 February 2018, during Sri Lanka’s Independence Day celebrations. Fernando in sign language (gesture indicating slitting the throat) expressed his disgust at the protestors.
Aryasinha reiterated the GoSL’s position, earlier conveyed by the Sri Lanka High Commission in London on 29 October 2018, that a diplomatic agent enjoys immunity from the criminal, civil and administrative jurisdiction of the receiving State, under Article 31 of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations (1961).
It was further pointed out that a diplomatic agent is not required to file a responsive pleading or appear before the Courts or other tribunals of another State and hence is not required to file a response.
The Ministry said that this position has also been communicated through Sri Lanka’s High Commission to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the UK.