Uganda: Safe Houses Used World Over, Says Gen Tumwine

Parliament — The Security minister, Gen Elly Tumwine, has asked Parliament to come to terms and live with safe houses.

The minister's call is contained in a statement dated August 15 presented to Parliament.

"Madam Speaker, 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," reads part of Gen Tumwine's statement.

"... .running safe houses is not peculiar to Uganda but it is a worldwide intelligence practice," he adds.

Gen Tumwine's statement is in response to concerns raised by MPs last week pertaining to torture suffered by Ugandans detained by security organs.

MPs including Kawempe North's Lateef Ssebaggala (Independent) and Lwemiyaga County MP Theodre Sekikubo (NRM) tasked Gen Tumwine to explain what they called illegal arrests and detentions of Ugandans in "safe houses" without trial.

It was also alleged that security operatives under the Internal Security Organisation (ISO) carry out operations in which they "abduct innocent civilians and take them to safe houses where they are tortured".

One of such allegations points at a safe house allegedly in Kyengera, Wakiso District, where suspects are reported driven in the wee hours of the night to Kalangala detention centres via Katabi military barracks.

Mr Sekikubo cited the arrest of Ms Oprah Phoebe Kiddu, a member of NRM for Justice presure group, by ISO for allegedly opposing the sole candidature of President Museveni in the forthcoming elections.

However, Gen Tumwine indicated that the named person is not known to the security forces and that she is not in custody anywhere.

Whereas the minister accepts that ISO was behind the arrest of city advocate Patrick Machika Mugisha, he denied allegations that the lawyer was tortured.

Some functions of a safe house

- To coordinate clandestine intelligence operations

- To debrief and re-brief intelligence assets

- To secure and protect witnesses in danger, especially criminals who have turned into witnesses

- To secure persons who come seeking to be protected by the state for various security reasons

- To manage hard-core criminals who require a long time to reform and now need observation and surveillance.

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