Written by Staff Writer
06 Jun, 2020 | 10:34 pm
COLOMBO (News 1st): “At a time that the Sri Lankan Government, with its limited resources, must protect its own citizens from the devastation of the pandemic and has even hesitated to repatriate its own workers from the Gulf states, it cannot allow the US embassy official to flout our laws and regulations and put the lives of our people at risk, Former Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the United Nations Office at Geneva Tamara Kunanayakam said.
The former Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the United Nations said “Under the circumstances, the Government must resort to article 9 of the Vienna Convention and request the US Embassy to withdraw the diplomat in question or, as a last resort, notify the sending State that the diplomat is ‘persona non grata’.
Persona non grata stipulates that the receiving state may at any time without having to explain its decision, notify the sending state that one of the members of diplomatic staff is no longer welcome.
This incident has become a focal point of discussion on the political platform.
“The course of action had been decided based on his diplomatic rights. The airport has not done anything wrong. There are laws like that. It is the US embassy which has taken the responsibility of him and ensured that he will be subjected to home quarantine,” Minister of Tourism and Civil Aviation Prasanna Ranatunga said.
When questioned if the U.S. Embassy official’s immunity is more important than the commitment shown by the people, the Minister said “This is the same thing that happens to us when we go overseas. If our Ambassador goes to the U.S. or to any other country to assume duties, then he too has similar rights.”
“We see this as a serious act of misconduct. The problem is that the government had not prepared the directives that should be followed by diplomats,” JVP National Organizer Bimal Rathnayake said.
He added that the government has always been closing the stable door after the horse has bolted.
Candidate of the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena said “We have made a decent request regarding our work plan. However, we cannot take action against them if they do not respect that.”
“We wish to stress that the foreign ministry must immediately intervene and subject him to a 14-day quarantine period, and also press charges against him for violating the country’s laws, and then deport him from the country,” President of Protect Sri Lanka Organization Ven. Pahiyangala Ananda Sagara Thero said.
Minister of Higher Education of Dr. Bandula Gunawardana said President Gotabaya Rajapaksa is of the view that the law must be enforced equally on both locals and foreigners.
“The necessary revisions are being made regarding the areas in which this is not implemented,” the Minister added.
Meanwhile, speaking to a newspaper Additional Secretary to the President for Foreign Relations Admiral Professor Jayanath Colambage has said that the recent incident involving the US diplomat had become a learning moment for the country.
Prof. Colambage noted that official approval for the diplomat to arrive in Sri Lanka was sent on May 26, before PCR tests were made mandatory at the airport on June 1.
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