Government insists no new secret detention cells

jailThe Government today insisted that there are no new secret detention centers operating in Sri Lanka.

Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera told Parliament today that if anyone has information related to new secret detention centers then the Government will investigate those claims.

Samaraweera said that the Government is also taking very seriously a report by the United Nations Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances following its recent visit to Sri Lanka.

The UN group had raised concerns over secret underground detention cells at the Trincomalee navy camp believed to have been used to detain people now reported missing.

The UN group visited the camp and inspected the cells and at least one cell is said to have had writings on the walls with numbers believed to be an indication that a detainee was in the cell in July 2010.

Samaraweera said that the cells have been sealed by the CID based on a court order and investigations are underway.

He said that there are no new secret detention centers at that camp or any other military camp in the country.

Tamil National Alliance leader R. Sampanthan however said that information continues to flow indicating that secret detention centers still exist.

Meanwhile the United Nations Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances had also noted during its visit that families of those reported missing during the war had faced harassment at the hands of the police.

Samaraweera said the Government has asked the UN group to share information related to the complaints they received in order to investigate them.

The Foreign Minister said that the Government recognises the mistakes of the past and is prepared to address them.

He said that land issues in the North are also being looked into and as part of moves to release land held by the military, a cabinet paper is to be presented to release 6000 acres of land and hand the property back to the rightful owners.

The Foreign Minister said that the military will remain at locations in the North where it is absolutely necessary. (Colombo Gazette)