Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena this evening (18 December) 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, that 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.
Noting that Ms. Francis is a Sri Lankan citizen, and that the matter was presently in Court, Minister Gunawardena said the Government of Sri Lanka will do whatever it can according to the law of the land. Minister Gunawardena re-affirmed that Ms. Francis has been granted with all possible facilities and that all her rights have been protected.
Referring to the Swiss Foreign Ministry statement of Tuesday (17 December), Foreign Minister Gunawardena emphasized that Sri Lanka has fully complied with national law and international judicial standards, and that any assertion to the contrary was factually inaccurate. He 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 emphasized that due process has been adhered to at each step, in keeping with international norms respected by both countries.
Reaffirming the commitment to consolidate bilateral relations, Minister Gunawardena agreed that the Foreign Ministry will continue to engage in further discussions in this regard, with the Swiss Ambassador in Colombo.