KAMPALA – Legislators on the parliamentary committee on Human Rights have insisted that they will leave no stone unturned in the search for what they described as torture chambers by the Internal Security Organization after they were on Tuesday blocked from visiting two safe houses in Kyengera and Nateete, both Kampala suburbs.
The MPs, led by the chairperson of the parliamentary committee on Human Rights, Janepher Nantume Egunyu (Buvuma), on Tuesday morning went to visit the safe house in Kyengera after some people claimed that they suffered torture and human rights abuses in the safe houses run by ISO.
However, they were told by a soldier guarding the facility that they don’t open for “whoever goes there”. They were told that they needed to get permission from the ISO director-general, Mr Kaka Bagyenda, first to be allowed in.
The same story was repeated in Nateete, to the chagrin of the MPs.
Ms Egunyu said: “We wanted to find out where these safe houses are and whether people are tortured there. This was a committee decision. We decided to do a spot visit without informing where we were going. We have visited three places but for the two places, it’s absurd we weren’t allowed to access by the soldiers we found. I can’t say we have seen people being tortured because we were denied entrance.”
Mr Robert Kyagulanyi (Kyadondo East) said: “We went to Kyengera but we were denied access. Many people I have interacted with told me they were in the safe houses and were tortured. We saw some Somali women in Kyengera and we were told they are being raped. We proceeded to Nateete and saw another safe house by the roadside but we were denied access by the soldiers we found. This was an opportunity for the nation to see the impunity in the safe houses.”
“This on-spot visit further exposes the human rights abuses by these ISO operatives who have been arresting people in a gangster style,” he added.
While appearing before the committee last week, Security minister, Gen Elly Tumwine, confirmed that there are “several safe houses” but could not reveal how many they are, where they are, and how many people are being held there.
However, Gen Tumwine plainly told MPs that they cannot access any of the said safe houses.