Sri Lanka and Switzerland Versions of Meeting Between President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Swiss Ambassador Hanspeter Moch in Colombo Appear to be at Variance With each Other

The Swiss Foreign Ministry has rejected the Sri Lankan government’s contentions regarding the alleged abduction of one of its local employees Garnier Banister Francis alias Sriyalatha Perera.

In a press release on Monday, the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) said: “ An employee of the Swiss embassy in Colombo has been taken into custody today for alleged false statements. The FDFA is concerned about this decision.”

“It demands that the Sri Lankan judicial authorities ensure that the personal rights of its employees are better protected and that national law and international standards are complied with in the further proceedings.”

“The FDFA and the Swiss embassy in Colombo will continue to fulfill their responsibilities as employers and will support employees to the extent possible.”

“The local employee of the Swiss embassy was reportedly detained in Colombo on November 25, 2019 against her will to disclose internal information. During the proceedings, the victim and the Swiss embassy cooperated fully with the Sri Lankan authorities. The FDFA has repeatedly requested compliance with the rule of law. In particular, the FDFA criticized the 30-hour survey over three days despite the poor health of the embassy staff and the public questioning of their descriptions by senior Sri Lankan officials before the end of the investigation.”

“After arresting its employees, the FDFA expects the Sri Lankan judiciary to comply with its own legal requirements, to comply with international standards for proper procedures and to protect personal rights better than before.”

“ As an employer, the FDFA requires the Sri Lankan authorities to perform their duties in accordance with applicable law and to take into account the unstable health of employees.”

“Switzerland emphasizes that in this exemplary case, Sri Lanka’s reputation as a constitutional state is at stake.

The FDFA and the Swiss embassy in Colombo will continue to support their employees wherever possible.”

“The FDFA has repeatedly told the Sri Lankan authorities that it is looking for a common and constructive way to resolve the security incident. On December 16, 2019, the Swiss ambassador to Colombo also underlined this in a direct conversation with Sri Lanka’s President Gotabaya Rajapaksa.”

Complete Variance With Lankan Version

The FDFA’s version is completely at variance with the Lankan government’s presentation of the case at a meeting between the Swiss Ambassador Hanspeter Mock and President Gotabaya Rajapaksa here on Monday.

This is what the Presidential Media Division said about the Mock-Gotabaya meeting: Conveying warm congratulations to the President over his recent election victory on his and his government’s behalf, the Ambassador said that he especially appreciated President Rajapaksa’s remark that “he is the President of all Sri Lankans”. “Switzerland is happy that traditional relations with Sri Lanka remain strong and mutually beneficial”.

Focusing his attention on recent incident involving a locally recruited official of the Swiss Embassy, Mr. MOCK stressed that Switzerland harboured no intention to do any harm to Sri Lanka.

“We wish to work together for the benefit of both countries. Also we need to overcome this situation of tension and to remove any misunderstanding,” the Swiss Ambassador said.

In response President Rajapaksa explained to the Ambassador the progress of investigations in to the incident so far.

“It is very well established by now that the alleged abduction is a total fabrication. Irrefutable evidence such as Uber reports, telephone conversations and CCTV footages point to this fact. The Embassy official must have been compelled by some interested parties to bring myself and my government in to disrepute. It is not clear why the alleged victims acted in such a manner,” President observed.

President Rajapaksa said that he saw no wrong in the initial reaction by the Swiss Embassy when this incident was first reported. “It is justifiable. If a member of its staff is in trouble, the Embassy has to intervene”.

The President requested the Ambassador to cooperate with the government to conduct the investigation to its end so that the truth would emerge.