Politics & Current Affairs

UN visit 'Gota's Camp' secret torture site in Sri Lanka navy base

United Nations have confirmed the existence of a secret torture site earlier exposed by victims affected by abductions.

The secret camp within the naval base in the eastern town of Trincomlee was an 'important discovery', a top team of UN experts investigating disappearances in Sri Lanka told journalists in Colombo on 18 Wednesday.

Led by Bernard Duhaime, the UN working group on enforced and involuntary disappearance (UNWGEID)  had visited the underground torture site known as 'Gota's Camp' during their ten day stay in Sri Lanka.

Prime minister's denial

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe had vehemently denied the existence of many such secret torture sites  despite exposures by Tamil politicians, grass roots activists and rights organisations including JDS.

Visiting UN team member Ariel Dulitzky expressed fear that many taken to Gota's Camp would have been killed .

People  would have been saved had there been effective investigations and  Judicial process, he said.

"Because of the lack of effective judicial remedy, some lives were lost."

Rejecting information provided by state security that only eleven had been detained in secret, he said that 'it is very likely' that the number of those held in that detention centre would have been  much higher, based on  the number of underground cells and the  number of years  it had been used.

Therefore, the UN team has called for a speedy investigation into the findings of the secret torture camp in the Trincomalee naval base.

Mass graves

The UN experts who have visited two mass graves in Tamil speaking Mannar and the Sinhala dominated Matale, have expressed displeasure over the handling of their evidence.

"These visits demonstrated evident problems in the way the mass grave sites have been secured and the samples and evidence handled," the team said.

They were hopeful that independent and professional investigations would reveal more mass graves.

The team of experts has urged Sri Lanka to establish and independent body with international involvement that proactively search for the disappeared.

It objects to security forces involvement in such a mechanism.

UNWGEID says, "the Government should adopt immediately a comprehensive policy to search for all of those who disappeared. Those involved in the process of search should not be involved in any way in past disappearances. The investigation should be conducted by a new body with total independence."

© JDS