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Sri Lankan president reiterates denial of secret detention centres

Sri Lanka’s president has once again declared that there were no secret detention centers on the island, contradicting reports by non-governmental organisations and a UN body which confirmed their existence.

Speaking at an election rally in Jaffna Maithripala Sirisena said that he had met with the relatives of the disappeared and was “concerned about their problem of the missing relatives”.

Protests led by women have been ongoing for almost a year, demanding the Sri Lankan government reveal the whereabouts of the disappeared, release a list of all those who surrendered to the military and for the location of secret detention centres to be made public.  

Mr Sirisena however told the rally that “I made inquiries and I tell them on behalf of the government that there are no such camps run by the government".

His comments contradict the findings of the United Nations Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances (UN WGEID) who in 2015 ) announced that it had discovered a “secret underground detention cum torture center” located in Sri Lanka and called on the government to reveal the existence of other such centers if any existed.

It also goes against the findings of the Sri Lanka Human Rights Commission (SLHRC), a government appointed commission which admitted that the use of torture remains “routine” last year, with reports of undocumented sites across the island.