KAMPALA – Government has said Members of Parliament were blocked from accessing safe houses because they used the wrong procedure.
On Tuesday, the lawmakers on the Committee of Human Rights were blocked from visiting several safe houses in Nateete, Kyengera and Nalukolongo, all Kampala suburbs, amid allegations that the locations are used by the Internal Security Organisation (ISO) as torture chambers.
However, the Deputy Executive Director of the Uganda Media Centre, Col (Rtd) Shaban Bantariza, on Wednesday said the MPs visited the facilities without following protocol.
“Even if they had come to my personal home impromptu, they wouldn’t access it, even my office is not open to everybody. These (safe houses) are security establishments, there are many things kept in security establishments like equipment and data. A safe house is an office for intelligence,” Col Bantariza said.
He also dismissed claims that the safe houses are torture chambers.
“I know there are safe houses in Uganda and I know what they are meant to do, keep people who were endangered. Safe houses must never be torture dungeons, I want to dispel the misconceptionthat people are being killed and nobody is being arrested. The President has given the full data of the people that have been attacked, killed or abducted in different locations in the country and the people who have been arrested in connection to those crimes,” he added.
However, Mr Joshua Anywarach, the MP for Padyere County who is among the MPs blocked from visiting the safe houses, said the impromptu visit and their eventual blockade shows that the security agencies were hiding something.
“When we went to Nalufenya, the sick people there were transferred overnight because the visit was pre-announced. We were advised to go impromptu if we were to get these people red-handed. Parliament represents and works for the people of Uganda. It’s like your guard at home refusing you to access your store, that’s how bad it is,” he explained.
“When you talk about the state of security, you’ll need to understand what security is. Security is not just at the ICT centre, it’s not on the camera, security is a state of being free from danger or threat. Everyone should be safe and alive in this country, to do that, we should address the security concerns in the country, what has gone wrong that Ugandans can be shot at any time without anyone being apprehended,” he added.