MPs blocked from accessing Kyengera Safe House

Tuesday September 10 2019

MPs Robert Kyagulanyi and Latif Ssebagala

MPs Robert Kyagulanyi and Latif Ssebagala addressing journalists outside the said Kyengera safe house after being denied access. Photos by David Lubowa 

By Risdel Kasasira

Members of Parliament have been blocked from accessing the safe house in Kyengera, which is allegedly being used by the Internal Security Organization as a 'torture chamber' for those believed to have committed crimes.

The MPs, led by the Chairperson of the parliamentary committee on Human Rights, Janepher Nantume Egunyu (MP Buvuma County) were told by the one of the soldiers 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.

Ms Nantume said it was "on-spot visit to the safe houses" run by ISO.

The MPs who had gone in company of journalists had to leave after being blocked from accessing the premises. They however said they are determined and will leave no stone unturned in fighting 'human rights abuse'.

Kyadondo East MP Robert Kyagulanyi, who is a member of the committee said," This on-spot visit further exposes the human rights abuses by these ISO operatives who have been arresting people in a gangster style."

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.


Human rights committee chairperson Ms Janepher
Human rights committee chairperson Ms Janepher Nantume Egunyu trying to speak to one of the security personnel guarding the facility.

In what looked like defying orders of Deputy Speaker Jacob Oulanyah, who recently ruled that MPs on the Committee on Human Rights must visit ‘safe houses’, Gen Tumwine plainly told MPs that they cannot access any of the said safe houses.

He told the committee that Parliament needs to trust government because people in ‘safe houses’ are in good shape, adding that they are also preferred places to live by some of them, including reformed criminals such as Paddy Sserunjogi, alias Sobi, who are reportedly helping the Internal Security Organisation (ISO) in fighting crime.

The MPs are currently investigating alleged human rights abuses by the ISO as directed by the Speaker of Parliament Ms Rebecca Kadaga last month.

This was after MP Latif Sebaggala (Kawempe North Division) and his Arua Municipality counter Kassiano Wadri raised the matter on the floor of parliament as a matter on national importance that the Internal Security Organisation (ISO) is running safe houses in ungazetted places where some Ugandans are reportedly kept and tortured.

Journalists who had accompanied the MPs to
Journalists who had accompanied the MPs to Kyengera for the on-spot visit.

The MPs cited several complaints from their electorates about missing persons as they have on several occasions been approached by the relatives of those believed to be held hostage in the said safe houses.

The Director General of ISO Col Kaka Bagyenda is expected to appear before the committee tomorrow to explain the alleged torture of people in the safe houses.