A 60-year-old man claiming to have spent more than two months in a safe house at Kyengera in Wakiso District has narrated the circumstances under which detainees are treated.
Mr Evans Gabula, also known as Africa Bright, who testified before the Parliamentary Committee on Human Rights yesterday, said hundreds of people are going through “heinous” experiences as they continue to be moved among several safe houses being run by the Internal Security Organisation (ISO).
Mr Gabula, who claims was detained and tortured by security operatives at Kyengera Base 1 and 2 safe houses, described the experience under ISO Director General Frank Kaka Bagyenda as more dangerous than that Nalufenya during the time of Commandant Nixon Agasiirwe.
“If you compare the torture at Nalufenya with what is happening in the safe houses, Nixon Agasiirwe would be an angel and Kaka would be the devil because what I went through is appalling,” said Mr Gabula, who has been detained in both facilities.
The victim, who was sneaked into Parliament by his lawyer, Mr Anthony Wameli, because he was being trailed by unknown people”, told the Committee chaired by Janepher Nantume Egunyu (Buvuma Islands County) that he spent 72 days in the Kyengera safe house before being helped to escape by an officer.
Mr Gabula said Col Kaka, who regularly visited at night, also deployed known notorious hardcore criminals led by Mr Paddy Sserunjogi commonly known as, Sobi, to torture the detainees.
Mr Gabula said: “I have come appeal to this Parliament to save me because I have my rights and I have never done anything wrong in this country. People are committing heinous crimes in the name of providing security in this country.”
He said Sobi and 23 other people move to Safe House Base 1 and 2 at Kenyengera and Base 3 at Nalukolongo, a suburb of Kampala, to torture people demanding that they confess falsely and witness about some people facing criminal charges.
Mr Gabula said it is after the victims decline to confess within the Kyengera, Nalokolongo and other safe houses around Kampala that they are taken to Kalangala in Ssese Islands where more torture is applied
Mr Gabula said the reasons behind his torture is that ISO wanted him to make a false confession against former Inspector General of Police, Gen Kale Kayihura who is on charges of failing to protect war materials, failing to supervise police officers and abetting kidnap, in the Army General Court Martial.
Mr Gabula said there are juveniles who are students accused of participating in the burning of a dormitory at St Bernard SS Manya in Kyotera District in November last year; some Somali and Acholi women, who share cells with men.
He alleges that though detainees are not allowed to take a shower nor wash clothes while in the safe houses; “Somali women are being offered soap in exchange of uncontrolled sex” by male guards.
We were unable to independently verify the claims raised before MPs.
Committee chairperson Egunyu Janepher Nantume said MPs will carry out investigations. She said they will also summon the ISO boss and the ministers responsible for security before reporting to the House.
Gen Elly Tumwine, the Minister for Security, on Tuesday told Parliament that Ugandans should come to terms with safe houses, saying they are also being operated by other governments around the globe.
“I wish to mention that a safe house is a secure place used for intelligence work; all intelligence and security agencies world over operate safe houses. Therefore running safe houses is not peculiar to Uganda but it is a worldwide intelligence practice,” said Gen Tumwine.
Currently, the country is faced with reports of kidnap and disappearance of different categories of people but after many days of uncertainty by their families, some have been found to be held in safe houses.
Insecurity. Currently, the country is faced with reports of kidnap and disappearance of different people but after many days of uncertainty by their families, some have been found to be held in safe houses.