Safe houses: In whose interest does function of State security act?

Saturday September 14 2019

Asuman Bisiika KCCA contractor

Asuman Bisiika 

By Asuman Bisiika

A state is the constitutive virtual power of a polity (citizens) and a government is the administrative levers (or machinery) that functionalise or delivers or exercises the constituted State powers.
‘Constitutive’ denotes the limitations (in the French Language sense where the word ‘limite’ means boundary) like geographical bounds, acceptability by other polities. Because State power is about citizens; the ruling party holds State power under a mandate of trusteeship. And this trusteeship is limited or regulated by the administrative processes and procedures of the government and legislation. And all these regulatory regimes are based on the universal human expressions and aspirations frozen in a constitution.
All government actions, be they for State security or others, are taken in the name of the citizens. Anything short of that just renders you an occupation force.
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I have lived all my adult life in the neighbourhood of security and politics. And I can testify that 90 per cent of what is call classified information is about concealing illegal activities (sometimes bordering on pure crime).
Almost all intelligence agencies have safe houses. And I personally have no problem with the establishment of safe houses. What matters is the objective for which safe houses are established.
Initially, we thought the intelligence services were cleaning our city of the ‘dirty’ foreign spies; and some people liked it. But the testimonies before the parliamentary Committee on Human Rights tell us something else: Kidnap, torture, and illegal detention of citizens. And we ask: Whose interest does State security serve? Are we witnessing a testimonial clash between State security and the citizens?
Under what circumstances would the State and citizens clash? Answer: Failed State. State failure is not about a weak regime circled by menacing war lords; it is the failure of the people in power to put the interests of the citizens at the centre of all their actions. It is the failure to appreciate and redeem the fact that State power is held under a trustee mandate of the citizens.
The breakdown of the administrative functions of the State, which always attract the tag ‘State failure,’ is actually a consequence or manifest of a regime’s failure to put citizens at the centre of exercising State power.
By the time things reach this stage, State failure would have set in (and whatever one sees as State presence is so skin-deep and merely a function of regime or personal survival).
I have shared my torture testimony before. I will repeat it for the benefit of those so-called security guys torturing citizens.
I was in one of the neighbouring countries whose security agencies suspected me of being a Ugandan spy. I was arrested and thrown into a safe house facility. I was stripped naked, my legs and arms tied and they left me in a three by six feet cell for 96 hours.
When they came to pick me (to parade me before the media as a dangerous spy), they found me wallowing in my human excreta and urine. I was too weak to even sit upright; least said of standing up. Neither did I have the energy to clean myself.
Other detainees were brought in to clean me and later a doctor to stabilise me. Yet that’s not the only things they did to me. They did more; some of which I have conditioned myself to take to the grave.
I don’t want such a situation to happen to anyone (for any reason: Breach of State security or other). We are human beings; and no amount of passion for nationalism, support for regime or patriotism should push one to do what ‘they’ did to me. No. It is wrong.

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