KAMPALA – MPs, on the Parliamentary Committee on Human Rights, were on Thursday, August 22, lost for words as a man shed tears while narrating how he was tortured for two months during detention in a safe house in Kyengera, Wakiso District.
Mr Evans Gabula told MPs that he was tortured at Kyengera Base 1 and 2 safe houses by security operatives after he refused to implicate former Inspector General of Police Gen Kale Kayihura on charges of abetting kidnap and failing to protect war materials.
“I have come appeal to this Parliament to save me because I have my rights and I have never done anything wrong in this country. People are committing heinous crimes in the name of providing security in this country,” Mr Gabula, who was accompanied by his lawyer, Mr Anthony Wameli, told the MPs.
He explained that the human rights violations in the safe houses are worse than what was in Nalufenya during the time of former Inspector General of Police Kale Kayihura.
“If you compare the torture at Nalufenya with what is happening in the safe houses, Nixon Agasiirwe would be an angel and Kaka would be the devil because what I went through is appalling,” Mr Gabula told the MPs.
He said the safe houses are being run by the Internal Security Organisation (ISO) headed by Col Frank Kaka Bagyenda, whom he said visits during the night.
Mr Gabula claimed that students accused of participating in the burning of a dormitory at St Bernard SS Manya in Kyotera District in November last year are kept in the same cells with older women and men.
He alleges that detainees are not allowed to take a shower nor wash clothes while in the safe houses.
Mr Gabula said Col Kaka also deployed notorious criminals led by Mr Paddy Sserunjogi commonly known as, Sobi, to torture the detainees.
He said that he spent 72 days in the Kyengera safe house before being helped to escape by an officer.
Committee chairperson Egunyu Janepher Nantume said MPs will summon the ISO boss and the ministers responsible for security over the matter.
The revelation comes days after the president of the Uganda Law Society, Mr Simon Peter Kinobe, said that Col. Kaka, the Director-General of Internal Security Organisation (ISO), has no statutory mandate and authority to arrest or detain anyone in the country.
Mr Kinobe’s remarks come after ISO detained for four days Mr Patrick Mugisha, a lawyer in a safe house in Kyengera, on the outskirts of Kampala.
The Law society president accused Col Kaka of kidnapping Ugandans, arguing that Col Kaka under the law has no legal mandate to arrest anyone.
“We’re calling the arrests kidnaps because section 4 and 11 of the Security Act spells out the mandate of ISO, it says they have no authority to arrest whatsoever,” he said.
“The individual (Kaka Bagyenda) who carried this [Mugisha’s arrest] out does not have a statutory mandate to arrest. He can’t arrest as a private individual. The arrest was carried out by CMI on instructions of Kaka. Counsel Patrick Mugisha was kept in a safe house in Kyengera which is not gazetted by law for purposes of detention. There’s no justification for impunity,” he added.
Mr Kinobe said holding people incommunicado takes Uganda back to the dark ages.
“The constitution of the Republic of Uganda has decreed that a person shouldn’t be held beyond 48 hrs. We have this particular article because of our very dark history where people used to disappear and never seen again. If insecurity is on the rise, don’t act with impunity, it means you act smarter. Kaka has broken all these provisions, he keeps people in safe hours and holds them beyond 48 hours,” he said on Monday during NBS TV’s breakfast show.
The Uganda Law Society in a strongly worded letter dated August 3, 2019, accused Col Bagyenda of usurping the powers of other security agencies and acting with impunity by kidnapping, intimidating, harassing and arresting lawyers without any reason.
“The ISO Director has now taken over the role of other security agencies and has turned ISO into a clearing agency for wealthy individuals to the detriment of regular citizens. Despite the lack of statutory mandate to arrest and detain, the same has continually detained citizens in places not gazetted by law and beyond the statutory period of 48 hours. The most notorious safe house used by ISO is in Kyengera protected by the military police under the command of the UPDF,” Mr Kinobe’s letter reads in part.