Switzerland keen to restore confidence with Sri Lanka after incident

Tuesday, 3 December 2019
Switzerland is keen to restore confidence with Sri Lanka after relations deteriorated following an alleged kidnapping of one of its local employees. Following several demarches from the FDFA over the incident concerning an employee of the Swiss embassy in Colombo, State Secretary Pascale Baeriswyl had received the Sri Lankan Ambassador to Switzerland based in Berlin, Karunasena Hettiarachchi, in Bern.
Ms Baeriswyl confirmed at the meeting that Switzerland supports measures to investigate and settle this matter by due process of law. However, the employee concerned still cannot be questioned on health grounds. At the end of November, a local employee at the Swiss embassy in Colombo was detained on the street and threatened by unidentified men to force her to disclose embassy-related information. The FDFA responded to this incident through a series of demarches. The embassy reported the incident to the Sri Lankan authorities, calling for a swift and thorough investigation to be conducted.
Ms Baeriswyl emphasised to the Sri Lankan ambassador that the FDFA would support all measures to investigate and resolve this matter by due process of law. She confirmed that the employee concerned still cannot be questioned on health grounds, stressing that the individual’s health must take priority. She also indicated that while Switzerland had no interest in delaying investigations by the Sri Lankan authorities, the FDFA takes its responsibilities to its staff very seriously.
Court order has been issued preventing the Swiss Embassy employee involved in an alleged kidnapping incident, from leaving the country till 9 December. In addition, the Colombo Magistrate court today (3) also ordered that the Swiss Embassy employees, who is a Sri Lankan national, also provide a statement to the authorities regarding the incident by 9 December.

Earlier last week the Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement to the effect that authorities had conducted an investigations into the allegations that the Swiss Embassy employee was unlawfully detained, assaulted and questioned- sans a statement from the victim herself.The Foreign Ministry statement also said that investigations had revealed that sequence of events of the incident did not tally with the evidence provided by the Swiss Embassy