Deputy Speaker Jacob Oulanyah
Deputy Speaker directs MPs to visit safe houses despite Gen Tumwine’s threats. File Photo

Deputy Speaker Jacob Oulanyah instructs Human Rights Committee to go ahead and visit the safe houses despite Gen Tumwine’s threats

The Committee of Parliament on Human Right has been instructed by Deputy Speaker Jacob Oulanyah to disregard Minister of Security, General Elly Tumwime’s commands of stopping them from visiting the safe houses said to be torture chambers.

One in Kyengera along Masaka road and another in Lwamayuba in Kalangala, but rather go on and inspect them.

Deputy Speaker Jacob Oulanyah who chaired the Thursday parliamentary sitting informed the Committee leader, Ms Jennifer Egunyu Nantume, Buvuma County legislator (NRM) to lead her team go visit these alleged torture chambers as directed by the Speaker of Parliament, Rebeca Alitwala Kadaga because it’s within their mandate and no one should attempt to stop them from accessing these places.

“The Speaker ruled here and directed the Committee to go and look at those safe houses. You have the prerogative of this House. You have the mandate of this House. You have been given the assignment to go and visit the places. You go and be stopped from there,” Oulanyah said.

However, Joseph Gonzaga Ssewungu, Kalungu West legislator (DP) also one of the Committee Members informed parliament that Gen Tumwine’s Wednesday statements that the Committee Members are not allowed to access these detention centres when he appeared before the Committee for interrogation on the matter were a total exhibition of arrogance.

Gen Tumwine when he appeared before the Human Rights Committee to respond to claims that safe houses are used as torture chambers to many Ugandans, informed legislators that they are not allowed to access state-owned safe houses in the country.

Tumwine also informed them that safe houses are used as protection centres for witnesses under threat, especially criminals that have reformed and those who request for protection.

“These are areas which for security reasons, this Committee cannot visit; if a witness who is scared of his colleagues who are criminals runs to the state for protection, would it be wise or in public interest to reveal the whereabouts of such a person?” Gen Tumwine asked the Committee.

Gen Tumwine also said that there are limitations to everything saying that even in their houses there are some areas which cannot be accessed by family members.

Tumwine also denied the torture claims saying no Ugandan has ever been tortured under government safe houses. According to him, there’s no and he does not hope that there’s a safe house under the ministry of security where people are tortured.

Nevertheless, other legislators including Francis Mwijukye, Buhweju legislator maintained that the Speaker Kadaga’s orders indicate that no one should intercept parliamentary duties.

He, therefore, vowed to accompany the Human Rights Committee in establishing the truth in these said safe houses.

“Minister is approved by Parliament, works with Parliament, he’s a member of parliament, he should not attempt to work above Parliament, we will not allow it,” Mwejuike said.

While Muwanga Kivumbi, Butambala legislator said that they are ready to accompany the Human Rights Committee of Parliament to these safe houses, as they try to establish the truth about the allegations.

“All that we are now waiting for is the Committee to announce the date, and we go knocking on the doors if need be windows of these safe houses to see what is inside there,” Muwanga said.

Also, John Baptist Nambeshe said they must go and inspect those safe houses regardless of Gen Tumwine’s intimidations because most of the victims who have ever been taken to those safe houses left with deformed bodies.

“Because we know these are chambers of torture, and Ugandans have left most of these safe houses when they have been lamed, others have been seriously injured. And when the Minister of Security has threatened to stop us from going there, we are serious we have to go,” Nambeshe said.