-By Diplomatic mission officer (retired)
(Lanka-e-News - 08.Feb.2018, 11.30PM) It is a matter for deep regret Pallewatte Gamaralalage Sirisena has demonstrated and confirmed once again that he is ignorant of the country’s laws and regulations so much so that he does not have even that little knowledge a remote village grama sevaka is expected to have, leave alone his lack of knowledge of a State’s diplomatic affairs.
It is a well and widely known fact, to the consternation of all he reinstated a brigadier who was interdicted by the foreign ministry for behaving in a grotesque uncivilized manner that damaged the image of the country , and on grounds of gross indiscipline.
It is a universally acknowledged fact that Diplomatic officers are expected to serve as bridges between nations and build cordial international ties. They cannot therefore violate international laws and rules under any circumstances. In the Vienna convention pertaining to diplomatic affairs, it is clearly stipulated , they cannot exceed their limits . That is they cannot act beyond their powers and duties to hinder any section of the population .
Any diplomatic officer can enjoy immunities only if he carries out his duties duly without causing harm or hindrance. He cannot exploit his immunity to threaten or intimidate others .In fact he cannot disclaim responsibility even in a traffic offense citing his immunity , to escape the penalty of fine. If the officer conducts himself in a manner that obstructs the public , the officer ‘s motherland can under the laws demand his/her repatriation; take action under its laws; or dismiss him/her from the post.
When viewing this within the confines of the law ,the brigadier who is the accused by making veiled or overt threats has acted in breach of the provisions of Vienna convention. He had issued threats to an individual who protested in order to articulate his views in a free country , and subjected him to distress. He has indeed challenged the right to freedom of a citizen of that country.
In every main Institution at every place in London , the rights of the citizens are vividly displayed. Hence even if a finger is pointed at an individual it can be construed as a threat and legal redress can be sought. Therefore ‘slitting the throat’ gesture of the brigadier can be interpreted as a threat , and the citizen of that country who staged a protest legally can evoke the laws of that country against the brigadier.
We think we should shed some light on this protest in order that Sri Lankans who do not know the actual background can understand it more fully…
As in SL so in London , protestors cannot stage protests whimsically at any time and at any place as they want .They must obtain prior permission ,and a payment must be made on that account. Based on the permission granted the Police allocates a venue and a definite time limit for the protest . Moreover the protestors have to abide by a number of rules and regulations when they are engaged in the protests. If they violate the conditions and terms , those to whom the license was issued are held answerable.
In the circumstances , the brigadier and those who are shedding tears for him may not be aware those protestors have abided by the laws and were only enjoying the rights conferred on them legally when they protested in front of the SL High Commission .Hence if the laws of that country are evoked by a protestor against the brigadier , the course of legal action followed in Britain will serve as a model for our own.
During the late Premadasa era, because a complaint was made to the police in connection with the casting of vote by a SL citizen , the SL government deported the then British High Commissioner in SL ,David Gladstone on charges of interfering with the internal affairs of the country. Though Britain was a powerful country it had to keep its mouth shut , because it was Gladstone who violated the provisions of Geneva convention.
Already two British M.P.s had made a written request to their foreign minister to intervene at State diplomatic level on this issue. Based on that if the British Foreign ministry makes an official request that the brigadier be repatriated , our president’s toffee nosed instructions to keep the brigadier there will have to be swallowed by him like a sour toffee humiliatingly.
Though the SL foreign ministry secretary acted with foresight and perspicacity , the characteristic shortsightedness of the president put the whole process on reverse gear. It is doubtless , because President Sirisena alias Sillysena is fixing his gaze only on winning elections even at the expense of national interests and thereby muddling up the country’s foreign affairs ,he is certainly going to learn a bitter lesson on the same lines as deposed discarded ex president Rajapakse.
There are many dark sides to the conduct of the brigadier . One …. because his behavior was directed against the Tamil group , it could sow doubts among the international community as regards the reconciliation efforts of SL. This is because when the foreign ministry is pursuing a fixed policy , the leader of the state is villainously and myopically following a diametrically opposite policy .
Two…. Since the individual who was involved in this ugly episode is a high ranking officer of the forces , suspicions the international community is harboring already against the SL forces is being confirmed . This incident is also adding credibility to the charges in the documentaries that were publicized by popular channel 4 of Britain .Their principal accusation was , the SL forces are not disciplined. Hence the brigadier has contributed to that accusation by his undisciplined conduct.
The third -the most important… The view that is propagated in Britain by the pro LTTE Diaspora that the rights of the Tamils are being deprived in SL, is being further fanned intensely by this episode.
As reported by Lanka e news earlier on , in the latest protest there weren’t so many participants , unlike in the pro LTTE protests in the past when tens of thousands took part. In the latest protest there weren’t even 500 participants. Hence this brigadier by his obnoxious conduct had given the much needed boost to the LTTE extremists, which they would not have received even spending money. Silly Sirisena alias Sillysena despite being the president had also contributed to multiply that boost two or three fold through his stupid cheap political gimmicks .
In this delicate situation , the SL foreign ministry took the right decision initially. True enough the brigadier is a military officer , yet he is still employed under the foreign affairs ministry . Therefore as the official appointing him , the foreign ministry secretary can take action. Moreover , the decision taken by the foreign secretary to minimize the pernicious fallouts of this episode is of paramount importance.
If Britain takes action under the international convention and laws , the outcome could be most disastrous , and even the relationship between the two countries can turn bitter and be in jeopardy.
What was rudely shocking was , president taking steps which were not in conformity or consonance with the foreign secretary ‘s action. It is true the president has powers to release a prisoner sentenced to death , but he must understand he has no powers to rescind an interdiction order served on an individual by the foreign ministry secretary .It is the relevant ministry secretary who has powers under the Establishment Act’s rules and regulations. The president if necessary can only notify the foreign ministry secretary via his own secretary. But it is the ministry secretary who should implement the action.
It is a pity , the president by issuing orders directly to the SL High Commission in Britain to vacate the interdiction order of the Brigadier has only betrayed his gross ignorance of the government rules , regulations and procedures. Besides , if there is an investigation against a State officer facing charges , interdicting that officer until the probe is over is the common practice .
If the president himself - the highest in the hierarchy of the country is flouting the rules and regulations , he is doing an injustice to the other public servants who are facing punishment based on similar charges. Much worse , in a country where the president himself is violating the laws , nothing can be more dangerous than that.
Hence ,what the SL government should do is get down the brigadier , conduct an investigation, and mete out punishment duly .If anyone thinks such a move is an abject surrender to the pro LTTE protestors , that is a misconception .
On the contrary the president himself making attempts to save the accused will only tarnish the image of the country before the entire world. In addition it will only go to prove that there is no rule of law in Sri Lanka .
There is also another side ….
It is the deputy High Commissioner who was close to the accused when the incident occurred, yet unbelievably he took no measures to avert this ugly episode. While the British police were on alert and at the scene of the protest to control the situation , the SL diplomatic officers darting out to counter the protestors is most reprehensible and repugnant. It is tantamount to aggravating the tension and making the situation more volatile to the detriment of the motherland. The most rudely shocking part ? Neither the High commissioner nor the deputy High Commissioner gave instructions to refrain from such foolish and impetuous moves.
Though many people say this military officer is law abiding, I am not ready to accept this notion because he was not attired in the official uniform he ought to have worn at least on the independence day .On that day what he should have worn was the Ceremonial uniform, instead he was wearing only the ordinary attire. Vis a vis the army laws , that alone is a punishable offence. What heroics he performed on the battle field cannot be mixed up with his misconduct here.
Like how one is rewarded for the heroic feats , one should also be punished for one’s wrongs. That is what is state service.
In conclusion a comment must be made with regard to the statements made by a General of the forces and JVP ‘General’ Vjitha Herath that it cannot be decided a wrong was committed based on pictures and video footage.
As far as our knowledge goes , in the modern advanced world ,video footages and pictures are accepted as evidence . In contradistinction , these blokes however must be accepting as evidence only the pictures produced by light foretelling goddess’ and Hanuman’s
-A High Commission Officer (Retired)
by (2018-02-09 03:03:28)
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