Parliament moves to investigate Lwamayuba, Kyengera safe houses

Friday August 16 2019

The Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga has 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 tortured.

Ms Kadaga issued the directive after Latif Ssebaggala, the Kawempe North Member of Parliament and his Arua municipality counterpart, Kassiano Wadri told the House that the Internal Security Oraganisation (ISO) is running safe houses in ungazetted places where some Ugandans are reportedly kept and tortured.

Mr Ssebaggala brought up the issue as a matter of national importance citing several complaints about missing persons from different constituencies across the country.

He explained that he had been approached by some people over the weekend who managed to escape after allegedly being kidnapped by ISO operatives.

Ssebaggala claimed that after picking the suspect, ISO takes them to Katabi in Entebbe from where they are loaded on canoes and boats and taken to Lwamayuba on Kalangala Island for torture and when they die, their bodies are reportedly dumped in Lake Victoria.

“Madam Speaker this is a serious allegation that needs our indulgence because we have seen several cases of people disappearing with no traces. When you go to police cells they are not there either, we need to investigate this,” he said.


Equally, Mr Wadri reported a case of kidnap and rights violation to parliament. He claimed that Jamila Asha Atim, a record clerk at Arua Regional Referral Hospital was kidnapped by men in a white vehicle on April 17th, 2019 as she was heading home.

“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 Kassiano.

He said that by the time Atim was arrested, she was carrying a four months pregnancy, which she miscarried as a result of the torture that she underwent.

Mr Wadri said that Atim is still detained in the safe house together with a one Akram who was picked up from Nwoya District and others identified as Salima, Hagan and Nagima of Somali origin.

He wondered why they would be kept that long instead of bringing them to face the law in case they committed a crime or else be released unconditionally because they are being held illegally.
“It is very inhumane Madam Speaker, let something be done to save these people. Those places should be visited so that we really know what is happening there,” he said.

Ms Kadaga in her response directed the Human Rights Committee of parliament investigate the allegations and report back in two weeks.

“Honourable members we direct the committee on human rights committee of this house to move to Kalangala and Kyengera to establish whether there is a safe house and tell us what is there. We expect a report in a fortnight.
The Speaker also directed Security Minister Gen Elly Tumwine to present a statement before the House next week about the matter and why Ugandans are being held there.

The Uganda Human Rights Commission and other human rights agencies have on several occasions highlighted ‘torture’ as a persistent and rampant vice assuming the lion’s share with abuses reported at about 70 percent.