KAMPALA – The Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga has cleared a motion that would set in pace the process of censuring the Minister of Security, General Elly Tumwine over contempt of parliament after a report implicated him in blocking MPs on Parliament’s Human Rights Committee from accessing suspected safe houses during the Committee’s investigation into alleged torture by security operatives.
The motion to censure Tumwine followed a report tabled by Nantume Egunyu (Buvuma Woman MP) who also doubles as Chairperson Human Rights Committee accusing Gen. Tumwine of using his office to frustrate the work of the committee yet the same assignment had been cleared by the August House.
Nantume told Parliament that Gen. Tumwine admitted the existence of safe Houses noting that, safe houses were in different locations where operations deem them fit to fulfill their purpose & functions as provided in the Security Organisations Act, “The Minister also admitted that there is no specific law under which safe houses operate, neither is there a law which bars them and that there are many safe houses in Uganda depending on the need,” said Nantume.
She also said that the Human Rights Committee wasn’t able to verify the allegations made by the alleged victims & relatives of missing persons because MPs were denied access to the alleged safe houses during on spot visits.
The Committee Chairperson further detailed Tumwine’s hand in obstructing the Committee’s work stating that the Committee couldn’t exercise its powers to summon the Director-General as provided for in the Constitution because Gen Tumwine categorically stated that he would not allow the Director-General to appear yet some witnesses had made reference to Colonel Kaka and as such, the Director-General ISO, Colonel Kaka did not turn up for the meeting when invited by the Committee.
The committee report made a number of recommendations including a call to government to establish a Victims Compensation Fund to expedite compensation of tribunal awards made in favor of victims of torture and other human rights violations which some members of parliament said that would escalate torture since people shall be tortured by rich people and compensate them.
The committee report also asked Police Force to adhere to the 48-hour rule that requires suspects to be produced in court after arrest and also called on all security agencies to coordinate their activities as well as respect each other’s roles.
The Committee also called on Uganda Police Force together with the Uganda Human Rights Commission to investigate all allegations of torture and hold the perpetrators accountable.
The committee observed that the practice of using plain-clothed armed men to arrest people without following established procedure creates a gap for bad elements to take advantage and cause mayhem in society.
A number of MPs while debating findings of the Committee called for the censure of General Tumwine over his misconduct, like Mbwatekamwa Gaffa (Kasambya County) who said that the minister of security should be censured for his contempt of Parliament and overseeing such a human rights violation. He further disagrees with the compensation of torture victims as it beautifies torture.