Minister of Foreign Relations Dinesh Gunawardena reaffirmed to his Swiss counterpart yesterday that the rights of the Swiss Embassy employee who is in custody will be protected, and she will be granted all possible facilities.
The Minister conveyed these views when he received a telephone call from the Foreign Minister of Switzerland, Ignazio Cassis, regarding the status of the Sri Lankan employee at the Swiss Embassy, Ms. Garnier Banister Francis.
She is presently in custody on reasonable suspicion of committing offenses under Sections 120 and 190 of the Penal Code, which could justify a criminal charge of disaffection towards the Government, and fabricating false evidence for the purpose of being used in any stage of a judicial proceeding, in her alleged abduction claim.
Considering the good bilateral relations between the two countries, the Swiss Minister requested that all possible cooperation be extended to expedite the process, the Ministry said in a press release last evening.
Gunawardena noted that the Embassy employee is a Sri Lankan citizen, that the matter was presently before Court, and that the Government will do whatever it can according to the law of the land.
Referring to the Swiss Foreign Ministry statement of 17 December, the Minister emphasised that Sri Lanka has fully complied with national law and international judicial standards, and that any assertion to the contrary was factually inaccurate.
He also detailed the steps taken from the time the incident was first reported, through the presentation of Ms. Francis by the Swiss Embassy to the CID 13 days since the alleged incident, to the present, and emphasised that due process has been adhered to at each step, in keeping with international norms respected by both countries.
Gunawardena also said the Foreign Ministry will continue to engage in further discussions in this regard with the Swiss Ambassador in Colombo.