Parliament has heard that safe houses, wherever they exist in Uganda, are only used for intelligence work and not detention and torture of suspects as has been claimed by some victims.
This was revealed by Gen. Elly Tumwine the Minister of Security following a heated debate from which the Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga directed the Human Rights Committee to investigate reports on the presence of Safe Houses in Lwamayuba in Kalangala and Kyengera in Wakiso district. According to reports from victims, the safe houses are often used to torture suspects.
Hon Latif Ssebaggala Kawempe North MP and his Arua Municipality counterpart Kassiano Wadri stimulated the debate with narrations of horrendous acts of torture taking place in ungazetted places across the country.
However, Gen Elly Tumwine in a statement dated August 15 emphasized that running safe houses is not peculiar to Uganda but a worldwide intelligence practice which should not be alarming to anyone. Adding that safe houses are secure places for intelligence work.
The security minister also clarified that safe houses are designed to provide space for the country to coordinate covert intelligence operations, debrief and re-brief intelligence assets, as well as to secure and protect witnesses in danger especially criminals who have turned into witnesses.
“To secure persons who come seeking to be protected by the state for various security reasons. To manage hard-core criminals who require a long time to reform especially those who have rescinded to criminality after serving long prison sentences and now need observation and surveillance,” he writes.
The debate rose in response to a concern by Theodore Ssekikubo the Lwemiyaga County MP indicating intentions by Uganda law society to sue the Director-General of Internal security organization (ISO) Frank Kaka Bagyenda for breaching provisions of the Security Organizations Act, by illegally detaining suspects in safe houses.