State minister for Internal Affairs Obiga Kania has today said police don’t have any safe houses as alleged by human rights lawyers and sections of the public.
The Minister, also Terego East county Member of Parliament, was appearing on a talk show on a local television station in Kampala to throw light on the disbanded Flying Squad on Thursday morning.
He said that police holding facilities are secure and sufficient for police to carry out their investigations and they don’t have to use safe houses.
“As the state minister for Internal Affairs, I don’t know of any safe houses owned by police in the whole country, our facilities are safe for suspects,” he explained.
However, Mr Ladislaus Kiiza Rwakafunzi, a human rights lawyer who was appearing on the same talk show with Mr Obiga claimed he knows many safe houses owned by flying squad including Kyengera and Kololo publically known for torturing suspects.
Mr Rwakafuzi argued that the disbanment of the police Flying Squad earlier this week was confirmation that the squad had been created as a torture unit.
“Flying squad Unit was started to feed Nalufenya and you can’t close Nalufenya and remain with flying squad, for what?” Mr Rwakafunzi said.
However, Mr Obiga clarified that the unit was dissolved to avoid duplication of roles in the institution.
“If you can call 999 and police respond to you, then no need to duplicate activities in names of flying squad,” he said.
About Flying squad unit disbandment
The new Inspector General of Police Mr Martins Okoth-Ochola dissolved police’s Flying Squad unyit – FSU over mounting allegations of torture acts by its operatives.
The FSU, which has been under the command of Assistant Commissioner of Police -ACP, Herbert Muhangi, has been known for hunting down suspects in high profile cases. However, the unit has been pinned by various torture victims over torment acts by its operatives.
Charles Berwanaho a businessman and a retired accountant claims he was fatally tortured to the extent of losing his manhood and robbed by the FSU in 2006
The businessman says he has suffered at hands of flying squad 3 times with the first being in 2004.
“I lost my tooth, I also lost my manhood, it can never function again, and my cheek was damaged,” Berwanaho said.
He said the acts of the now dissolved police unit has seen many people tortured to death in police secret safe houses.
“I was blindfolded from Mityana to the safe house and it’s from the inmates (5 of them) I found who told me I was in Kyengera. The house belongs to a policeman who handed me over to ISO you can see the coordination in police,” he added.
However, the deputy police spokesperson Patrick Onyango replied to Berwanaho torture claims saying they are intended to tarnish the institutions (police) image.
“He is trying to tarnish the name of officer [ACP Alex] Muhangi and others revenging the sentences to him because of the evidence given by the investigating officer,” Onnyango added.
Other torture victims also include Godfrey Byamukama, Kamwenge town council mayor, whose gruesome torture acts by FSU operatives shaped the image of the now closed Jinja based Nalufenya facility.
Byamukama was jailed to notorious Nalufenya for five months over his alleged involvement in the murder of former police spokesperson Andrew Felix Kaweesi in 2017