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UN confirms existence of secret torture camps in Sri Lanka, calls on gov to reveal other possible locations

The United Nations Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances  (UN WGEID) 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.

Speaking at a press conference concluding the UN team’s visit to Sri Lanka, Ariel Dulitzky, said that the center most probably would have been used from 2010 according to dates scribbled in blood on the walls.

"We saw the dates that some people wrote on the walls. Clearly some of the latest dates were from 2010. We believe that it is an important discovery that should be investigated. Our understanding is that people were held there for very long periods of time," said the UN official.

The UN investigator added that there was a high probability of other torture sites existing on the island.

Mr Dulitzky stressed that the impunity in which disappearances had taken place in Sri Lanka had caused deep wounds in affected communities in Sri lanka. 

Highlighting that they had found many cases of disappearances related to the war and white van abductions, he added,

"We are convinced that his is only the tip of the iceberg considering the many disappearances documented by many commissions. We thus consider that it is very alarming that in almost all of the cases there has been complete impunity. And this must stop now."

Noting threats and intimidation of families of the disappeared that had met the UNWGEID, he added,
"These acts are absolutely unacceptable in a democratic society."

Calling for action to produce genuine results, Mr Dulitzky added that trust of communities could only be built through genuine results and a fully independent investigation.

The UNWGEID called on Sri Lanka to ratify international treaties on disappearances and the Rome Statute.

Drawing upon visits to mass grave sites, the UNWGEID added that any commission into disappearences must have the technical capcity to conduct proper exhumations with forensic expertise.

"We are concerned at the current technical capacity to conduct exhumations," said a UN official.

The UN working group’s visit saw several families of the disappeared in the North-East hold demonstrations calling for an international investigation into the disappeared.

The existence of secret torture camps in Sri Lanka has been long reported on by Tamil Civil Society and politicians in the North-East. Earlier this year Sri Lanka’s prime minister denied allegations of the existence of torture camps in Sri Lanka.

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Tamils still held in secret Sri Lankan military camps (31 Mar 2015)