Colombo: Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena has assured the minority Tamil community that his government was not running any secret detention and torture camps in the country. The president said he was concerned about the persons who were still missing years after the end of nearly three-decade-long civil war.
“I have several times met the relatives of the disappeared persons. I am concerned about their problem of the missing relatives,” Sirisena said while campaigning in the Tamil-dominated Jaffna city for the February 10 local council election.
“They have told me that the missing people are being held by the government in secret detention camps. I made inquiries and I told them that there were no such camps run by the government,” he said. Sirisena said his government had addressed the concerns of the Tamils by returning to them their land that had been held for military purposes since the mid 1980s.
The Tamil and international rights groups had blamed the former Mahinda Rajapaksa government of running secret detention and torture camps. The relatives of the missing persons have regularly held public demonstrations, demanding urgent government attention to their concerns. The government has set up an Office of Missing Persons (OMP) which is yet to become operational.
The OMP was one of the accountability mechanisms advocated in UN Human Rights Council resolutions on Sri Lanka since 2013.