Members of Parliament sitting on the Human Rights Committee have been blocked from accessing suspected safe houses in Nkokonjeru, Kyengera and Nalukolongo.
one of the suspected safe houses in Kyengera
Members of Parliament on the Human Rights Committee have been
blocked from accessing suspected Safe Houses in Nkokonjeru, Kyengera and
Led by the committee Chairperson Janefher Egunyu Nantume, the MPs on Tuesday
drove to the facilities in the company of journalists only to be denied access
at the facilities.
Dressed in a Uganda People's Defense Forces (UPDF) uniform, an officer who
identified himself as Vincent Kalibala, the in-charge of the Kyengera facility
spoke to the MPs through a small hole of the gate.
Kalibala told Nantume that they were not informed of their visit and that their
access can only be granted by the Director-General International Security
Organization (ISO), Col. Kaka Bagyenda.
He advised the committee to go to the ISO offices in Nakasero and seek permission
from Col. Bagyenda.
Despite insistence from Nantume that the Committee has powers from Parliament
to carry out the visit, Kalibala said he could not give any further statement
on the matter.
After the discussion yielded no fruit, Nantume briefed Journalists describing
the situation as sad and unfortunate.
"It's unfortunate that we cannot be allowed to access this facility in an
effort to exercise our mandate. We are going to discuss as a committee on the
way forward," said Nantume.
Kyadondo East MP Robert Kyagulanyi said that the development further exposes a blatant
abuse of human rights by ISO.
Kawempe North MP Latif Ssebbagala said that the committee cannot stand and see
Ugandans being harassed and keep quiet. He said that they will leave no stone
unturned in regard to the alleged tortures in Safe Houses.
At another facility in Nalukolongo in Musoke Zone, the MPs found UPDF officers
and others clad in Local Defense Unit (LDU) uniform at the gate. They also
declined to grant the MPs access directing them to seek permission from an
officer only identified as Maj. Sulait at Nateete Police Station.
Revellers we spoke to at Nalukolongo told URN that the facility is always under
Two residents who preferred anonymity claimed that a timber seller
identified as Yiga was recently killed at the facility and the UPDF officers
disguised his death by shooting in the air saying that he wanted to flee.
At Kyengera, residents who gathered on arrival of the committee said that the
facility is no go area for them since they are barred from standing near the
"We stay around here but the army officers never allow us to get close to
the gate. We only see soldiers entering and coming out and sometimes we hear
cries of help from inside," said one of the residents.
Last month, Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga directed the Human Rights
Committee of parliament to investigate claims about the presence of Safe Houses
in Lwamayuba and Kyengera where several Ugandans are reportedly being
The directive followed concerns raised by Kawempe North Member of Parliament
Latif Ssebaggala and his Arua Municipality counterpart, Kassiano Ezati Wadri
who narrated the horrendous torture of Ugandans in ungazetted
Ssebaggala cited several complaints about missing persons from different
constituencies across the country explaining that he was approached by some
people who managed to escape after allegedly being kidnapped by the Internal
Security Organisation-ISO operatives.
Ssebaggala claimed that after picking the suspects, ISO takes them
to Katabi in Entebbe from where they are loaded on canoes and boats and taken to
Lwamayuba on Kalangala Island.
Equally, Kassiano Wadri reported a case of kidnap and rights
violation claiming that Jamila Asha Atim, a Record Clerk at Arua Regional
Referral Hospital was kidnapped by men in a white vehicle on April 17, 2019, as
she was heading home. He explained that Atim’s relative approached police,
which wasn’t aware of the incident.
“As the relatives went further to try and find out from other
security agencies, it was later discovered that Atim is being detained in Kyengera
Safe House along Kampala-Masaka road. In this same Safe House people have
undergone horrendous torture, they are given one meal in four days,” said
Another attempt by the committee to access the highly
guarded Nakasero facility which is also suspected to be a Safe House were
futile after a UPDF officer only identified as Kitara told the MPs that his
boss was only to entertain the committee Chairperson as others remain outside
The suggestion was declined by the committee members who
demanded to interface with the boss whom Kitara declined to name as a team.
Amidst the disagreement, Kitara then relayed another message from his boss directing
the MPs to first get a clearance letter from Security Minister Gen. Elly
Tumwine before accessing the premises.
The Committee is scheduled to meet with the ISO Director Bagyenda
on Wednesday over the matter.