US diplomat avoids testing: CAASL Chief says US Embassy will carry out test on diplomat

By Skandha Gunasekara

An official of the US Embassy in Sri Lanka had forgone the PCR test carried out at Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) upon arrival in Sri Lanka due to diplomatic immunity.

The Civil Aviation Authority of Sri Lanka (CAASL) told The Morning that the US Embassy was responsible for carrying out PCR tests on their officials.

“According to diplomatic regulations, the (US) Embassy is responsible to transport the diplomat from the airport according to the Covid-19 procedures and have a proper medical process followed at the Embassy, including a PCR,” said CAASL Chairman Maj. Gen. (Retd.) G.A. Chandrasiri, adding that it would be performed by the Embassy’s Medical Officer.

He said that there were specific regulations that needed to be followed when a diplomatic passport was in concern.

“Sri Lankan authorities cannot demand a PCR test. We have to follow the international norms and procedures and that’s exactly what we did,” he said.

The CAASL Chief said the senior American diplomat had arrived on Monday (1) morning around 2 a.m. and that a number of high-level government officials were consulted to resolve the matter.

“PCR testing at the airport started on 21 May. This senior diplomat arrived at 2 a.m. on 1 June. So it was necessary for us to keep him four hours and to understand the correct procedure that we should adopt. We discussed with all the senior officials, including the Secretary to the President and the Minister of Foreign Relations, and had the diplomat released by 6 a.m.,” he said.

Meanwhile, the US Embassy in Sri Lanka said the US diplomatic staff adhere carefully to Sri Lankan Covid-19 guidelines including quarantine restrictions, in close co-ordination with the Foreign Ministry.

The Embassy further stated that the arrival of US diplomatic staff to Sri Lanka also complies with the norms and procedures outlined in the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, just as it applies to the arrival of Sri Lankan and other diplomatic staff to the US.