South Asia

‘No more secret prisons’

Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera on Thursday said the government would take “stern action” if it came to know that any secret detention centre still existed in Sri Lanka.

Addressing a press conference, he described his government as one “dedicated to human rights of all its people”.

Mr. Samaraweera was responding to questions on the observation of the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances during its visit last month about a former secret detention facility in the naval base in Trincomalee in the Eastern Province and the reported remarks of former Member of Parliament of the Tamil National Alliance, Suresh Premachandran, regarding the existence of secret detention centres in Jaffna.

Asserting that the country did not have any more secret detention centres, the Minister said: “If someone has information to the contrary, please tell us. We will certainly give you free hand, try and facilitate [you] to visit such places as quickly as possible.”

‘Decisive step’

Announcing the government’s decision to sign the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, he termed the move an “extremely important and decisive step”.

Elaborating on how people of the country, irrespective of race, religion or language of geographic location, had been affected by the crime of enforced disappearances, he said the criminalisation of such act would help ensure that “the terror of white van culture does not reign in our society ever again”.

Though the proposed law would not be applicable retrospectively, the Minister said: “We are in the process of setting up a mechanism to look into disappearances which happened in the past.” Also, a permanent office for missing persons is being established, he added.

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Printable version | Jan 22, 2021 6:30:11 AM |

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