19 January, 2020

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Sri Lanka Continues To Maintain Brigadier Priyanka Fernando Entitled To Diplomatic Immunity

“The Government of Sri Lanka continues to maintain that Brigadier Fernando as a diplomat who was attached to the Sri Lanka High Commission in London is entitled to diplomatic immunity as per Article 31 of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations of 1961,” says Ministry of Foreign Relations.

Dinesh Gunawardena – Minister of Foreign Relations

Issuing statement today Foreign Ministry of Sri Lanka regarding the Judgement in the Case of Brigadier Priyanka Fernando said: The judgement in the case of Majuran Sathananthan vs. Brigadier Andige Priyanka Indunil Fernando, the trial of which was completed at the Westminster Magistrates’ Court on 19 November 2019, was delivered by the Chief Magistrate of the Westminster Magistrates’ Court on 6 December 2019. The Chief Magistrate delivered the judgement under Section 4A of the Public Order Act of the UK and imposed a lower notional financial penalty, but did not consider it appropriate to issue a warrant. The Judge, who had previously ruled that the defendant was not protected by diplomatic immunity, did not revisit that ruling. She had also rejected the abuse of process argument.

“The Government of Sri Lanka continues to maintain that Brigadier Fernando as a diplomat who was attached to the Sri Lanka High Commission in London is entitled to diplomatic immunity as per Article 31 of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations of 1961.

“In January 2019, at the time summons was first issued by the Magistrate’s Court of Westminster, the then British High Commissioner was summoned by the Foreign Secretary and a protest was lodged against the legal proceedings in British Courts disregarding diplomatic immunities of Brigadier Priyanka Fernando in respect of the alleged incident. A request was made through the British High Commission in Colombo that the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, take necessary steps to ensure a review of the process including the order of the Magistrate’s Court of Westminster to correct the Court’s misunderstanding of International Law and the lapse on the part of the Court administration to bring to the attention of the Magistrate the contents of the Diplomatic Note sent by the Government of Sri Lanka claiming immunity. Sri Lanka High Commissioner in London was also instructed to pursue the matter with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. The Government of the UK had been requested to honour this obligation, which is reciprocal.

“During proceedings the Court conceded that the summons procedure was not conducted in the ideal manner and this gave rise to re-trial. According to available evidence, demonstrators who had staged the protest in front of the Sri Lanka High Commission as well as those who protested in front of Westminster Magistrates’ Court during the Court hearings had used flags of the LTTE which is a proscribed organisation in the UK.

“The sequence of events – the private prosecution, failure to uphold Brigadier Fernando’s diplomatic immunities, the timing of the delivering of the judgement on the eve of the UK elections, the alleged unruly and intimidatory behaviour of the supporters of the prosecution during Court hearings who were also carrying LTTE flags during these hearings, the alleged leaking of privileged information submitted in Court by the defence to the public domain by the private prosecution, makes abundantly clear that this is a politically motivated action.”

Related stories

Brigadier Priyanka Fernando Convicted For Threatening Tamils In UK

Defence Attaché Brigadier Priyanka Fernando Convicted – Full Text Of The Judgment

To read more about the case click here

 

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Latest comments

  • 22
    5

    Predictable. Sri Lanka will always make heroes out of zeroes. It would have been far simpler to make this man apologize, and show some remorse, instead of rewarding him with official posts. Sri Lanka will always have to carry the ugly stain of those unaccountable massacre of civilians up North, and this man’s actions only brings that into focus. Just because they wear the military uniform does not make them idols.

    • 16
      3

      Navin

      “It would have been far simpler to make this man apologize, and show some remorse, instead of rewarding him with official posts. “

      Be realistic.
      In this island, we make no mistakes, we do not own up mistakes, therefore we do not need to apologise, hence no need to show remorse.
      If you kill one person you got jail on the other hand if you kill tens of thousands you will become ranavirus who command special place in the community.

      During the hustings when Gota was questioned about forced disappearances he laughed, joked, brayed, sniggered ….. as if it was funny question and he won the elections.

      It is not about the civilian military leaders it’s an indictment of our entire society and Gota wants the world to believe this is a Buddhist country.

    • 1
      2

      Why would he apologize to LTTE buggers? Before they were banned, LTTE had a big bookstore in London that sold propaganda materials. You could buy videos of LTTE in combat; of course these videos featured dead SLA soldiers, like the ones on Youtube. Also, these LTTE supporters are celebrating “Heroes Day” every year, where they commemorate suicide terrorists who blew up Sinhalese civilians. This case against the Brigadier is a joke.

  • 10
    6

    In the real world, the gesture made by Brigadier Fernando should not have happened. Any Diplomat representing Sri Lanka should be above board of such petty thinking and display of emotion in public.

    A common, non-verbal way to threaten someone with death in fiction to slide your index finger against your throat to simulate a beheading or a Slashed Throat, sometimes with a vocalized sound. Usually, the one being threatened will clutch his neck in fear

    As such, I find him guilty in terms of moral value, and of misuse of diplomatic immunity.

    That said, I don’t see the rationale in Brigadier Fernando being prosecuted through the general legal system in the UK.

    The simple argument being that he is a Diplomat, and being inside of the premises of the Sri Lankan High Commission, which conditions make him to be immune to the general law of the land of England and Wales.

    Else, the entire concept of being a diplomatic representative of a Country, governed by the UN stimulants becomes a hoax / non believer.

    • 15
      5

      I do not think that you have ever been to the Sri Lanka High Commission in the UK. He was not inside the premises, but on the pavement. SL HC is in an old terraced house, which like other houses on the road, has a porch over the pavement. Any person has the right to walk under the porch as it is public domain, for which SL HC could do nothing. He deliberately came out to issue this threat to demonstrators. He has overstepped the etiquette expected of a diplomat. This is a pre-meditated crime not covered by diplomatic immunity. Quite rightly the British law has acted to grant justice. Nothing of such humiliation would have occurred if Sri Lanka had promptly withdrawn him, made an open apology to Tamil demonstrators and punished him under Sri Lanka laws for bringing disrepute to the country.

  • 14
    5

    There is a limit to diplomatic immunity. The brigadier exceeded the norms.

    • 10
      5

      Priyanka’s action cannot be eclipsed by diplomatic immunity- even partially.
      However, Srilanka’s army cannot do any wrong.

  • 4
    11

    He has diplomatic immunity. There is no question on that. And I hope Sri Lanka reconsider why it has allowed British high commission to set up a number of embassies in several cities.

    • 9
      4

      Tell that Idiot Naseby to take it up in house of Lords. Ask Sinhala veerayas in UK to have demonstrations outside the courts. Get Sinhala government to file action in international courts for violating Vienna rules, in refusing to protect a criminal.

  • 3
    7

    The Kangaroo court in the UK has handed over this ridiculous judgment to appease LTTE sympathizers. Lanka should immediately approach the UN to pass a resolution condemning the actions and also initiate action to rectify the injustices inflicted on the country by the British during the 150 years of occupation of Ceylon. Start with the violation of the Kandyan Convention, and escalate it to the massacres of 1818 and 1848. Ask for reparations for the imperial crimes against humanity in Ceylon and get China and others to back it up. The fact that this poltroon judge has the temerity to issue this diktat shows that they are still unaware of the power of a vote from China in support of Lanka. Try it, I think China will oblige. India will do as well, and it has more than one reason to back Lanka up on this matter.

  • 2
    1

    The GOSL is making a very heavy fist of this. The arrogant Brigadier made a silly gesture under provocation thinking that what was OK on the battlefield would be alright in the diplomatic space. He (and the GOSL) has displayed complete ignorance of the letter and spirit of Sec 31 of the Vienna Convention. His actions embarrassed the High Commissioner under whose aegis he attended the event. The government of SL has compounded the brigadier’s idiotic behaviour by supporting his case instead of, apologising and moving on. All the King’s horses and all the King’s me AND Lord Naseby cannot get us out of this shitty mess. Whatever, happened to shame in Mother Lanka?

  • 5
    0

    How come UK police allowed protesters to use flags of banned terrorist organisation. in front of a foreign mission. Does UK police allow any body to wave flags of ISIS in front of US high commission. It will never happen. This is a good example of how they treat differently to countries. It is all about power. Some might not admit that but that is the bitter truth.

  • 3
    0

    According to the circumstances and the unruly behaviour of the LTTE mob, the UK court should not have convicted Brigadier Fernando.

    Now it is the duty of the Sri Lanka Government to protect it’s officials from intimidation and harassment.

  • 0
    1

    A few remarks in relation to many comments above. Firstly, I doubt very much that he is a diplomat. Most of the military officials are Attache`. UK is a democratic country and therefore unlike not only SL, like many other western countries is tolerant. As Justice says, ‘there is a limit to diplomatic immunity. The brigadier exceeded the norms.’

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