By Shamindra Ferdinando
Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera has denied the existence of secret detention camps in Sri Lanka.
Responding to a query at Thursday’s media briefing at Sirikotha, FM Samaraweera said: “Last week, I had an opportunity to meet a group of mothers still looking for their missing children. The issue of secret detention camps came up and assured them such facilities do not exist. I assured them of a thorough inquiry in case they could reveal secret detention camps.”
Public Order Minister John Amaratunga too had met another group looking for missing persons to explain the situation, FM Samaraweera said, adding that the new government remained committed to do everything possible to establish the whereabouts of the disappeared.
Both Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and Justice Minister Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe recently contradicted accusations regarding existence of secret detention camps. Justice Minister Rajapakshe declared that only 210 persons were in custody, though some accused the government of holding thousands in secret detention facilities.
Commenting on the alleged attempt to stage a coup in the early hours of January 9, FM Samaraweera said that it was he who lodged a complaint with the Criminal Investigation Department (CID). The minister said: “I’m confident that an attempt was made to help defeated former President Mahinda Rajapaksa to remain in power.”
The minister alleged that certain officials wavered in handling certain investigations.
Asked whether the Foreign Ministry had found any dirt on former External Affairs Minister Prof. G. L. Peiris, FM Samaraweera said that the ministry was conducting inquiries. The media would be briefed of the outcome of the investigation, MP Samaraweera said, claiming that it wouldn’t be an easy task to find a person who hadn’t flouted laws during the previous administration.