The Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Alitwala Kadaga has directed the Minister for Security General Elly Tumwine to come and explain to legislators the presence of the two alleged safe houses in Kyengera and Kalangala that are said to be used for torture and incarceration of some people in the country.
The Speaker’s directive comes after a number of legislators raised a matter of national importance on the floor of Parliament after complaints from several people who claim they had been detained in these safe houses.
Kawempe North legislator Latif Ssebagala was the first to raise this matter of national importance in the Thursday Parliamentary sitting chaired by speaker Rebecca Kadaga.
Ssebagala together with other legislators informed told parliament that there are two safe houses respectively in Kyengera and Kalangala where hundreds of people have allegedly been tortured by persons claiming to work for the state without clear explanation.
Ssebaggala claims that after picking the suspect, ISO takes them to Katabi in Entebbe from where they are loaded on canoes and boats and taken to Lwamayuba on Kalangala Island for torture and when they die, their bodies are reportedly dumped in Lake Victoria.
“Madam Speaker this is a serious allegation that needs our indulgence because we have seen several cases of people disappearing with no trace. When you go to police cells they are not there either, we need to investigate this,” he says.
Mps Ssebagala, Kasiano Wadri of Arua municipality argue that majority of those that have been incarcerated in these safe houses are politicians, lawyers among others who have been denied access to their relatives, medical personnel and lawyers.
The MPs accuse several government agencies like the Internal Security Organisation for being behind these safe houses.
This is what has compelled the speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga to summon the minister for Security General Elly Tumwiine to come and explain the status of these safe House that are now said to be the centres of torture in the country.
The Speaker has also directed the Human Rights committee of Parliament to immediately investigate the status of these two Safe Houses.
The issue of safe houses has reared its head again even if the current leadership of the Inspector General of Police Martin Okoth Ochola claimed to have close the infamous Nalufenya detention in Jinja district in early 2018.
Accusations of human rights abuse in safe houses continue to bedevil the Ugandan government from time to time. In 2012, then Security Minister Muruli Mukasa defended the existence of safe houses as “houses (that) are a sanctuary for informants.“
Human rights activists, however, at the time and to this day dispute that safe houses are meant for the protection of those held in them.