Norway has asked Sri Lanka to comply with “well established international rules on diplomatic immunity” after a Colombo Court ruled that the former Norwegian Ambassador and three officials did not have immunity in a huge transaction involving an NGO.
Norway’s Ambassador Grete Lochen said yesterday that her government had held the position that the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations should be respected since Sri Lanka was a party to this convention. “Diplomats and state officials from Sri Lanka are enjoying the same privileges when serving their government,” she said in an email interview.
The ambassador said the Norwegian embassy was carefully studying the translation of the Colombo District Court order in which four Norwegian nationals including the country’s former Ambassador Hilde Haraldstad were being held accountable for the non-fulfillment of a financial transaction with a local NGO.
Colombo Additional District Judge Amali Ranaweera ruled out diplomatic immunity for former Norwegian Ambassador Harlstad and three other Norwegian Foreign Ministry officials in a case filed by Kumar Rupasinghe, the head of the Foundation for Co-existence (FCE). Mr. Rupasinghe is seeking Rs. 98.5 million from the Norwegians for failing to honour an agreement between his NGO and the Norwegian Government.
The NGO leader said he had taken bank overdrafts because of the Norwegian undertaking and he had to pay this money back now.
Ambassador Lochen said Norway’s decision to terminate the agreement with FCE was in accordance with the termination clauses in the agreement relating to non-fulfillment of the recipient’s obligations.