Sri Lankan minister contradicts diplomatic immunity of SLMM

[TamilNet, Friday, 05 October 2007, 08:20 GMT]
Sri Lankan Defense spokesman and a Cabinet Minister, Keheliya Rambukwelle, at the weekly press briefing in Colombo on Friday warned the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM) that their officials and vehicles would be checked at any checkpoints when they travel North. The Sri Lankan minister, by his statement on Friday, has contradicted the diplomatic immunity, provided to the SLMM according to the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, a well-placed diplomat in Colombo said.

According to Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, "the premises of the mission, their furnishings and other property thereon and the means of transport of the mission shall be immune from search, requisition, attachment or execution."

The Status of Mission Agreement (SOMA), in which the status, privileges and immunities of the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission and its members are defined agreed between the GoSL and the SLMM, states in article 2.2: "the property and assets of the Mission, wherever located and by whomsoever held, shall be immune from search, requisition, confiscation and expropriation."

The SOMA agreement further states that all members of the SLMM shall be accorded the same immunities and privileges as are accorded to diplomatic agents under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations of 18 April 1961.

Mr. Keheliya Rambukwelle, who contradicted the diplomatic immunity of the truce monitors by his warning to the SLMM on Friday further said that the Sri Lankan government was displeased with repeated apologies [from the SLMM].

Rambukwelle said that the government wanted to make sure that no unauthorized persons are accompanied by the SLMM.

The Sri Lankan foreign ministry has accused that the Icelandic Foreign Ministry official, Bjarni Vestmann, who visited Vanni last Tuesday, had bypassed the normal channels on his mission to meet Liberation Tigers Political Head S.P. Thamilchelvan.

On Thursday, two officials from the Northern Region office of the SLMM in Vavuniyaa and two SLMM technicians from Colombo, visiting the Liaison Office in Ki'linochchi were forced to cancel their visit to Vanni following the information on new military routines.

SLMM monitors come from Iceland and Norway.


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