It was a moment of mixed reactions as Security minister General Elly Tumwine interfaced with Kyadondo East Lawmaker Hon. Kyagulanyi Robert Ssentamu.
This was during the parliamentary committee on Human rights where the Minsiter was expected to respond to the allegations of the existence of ungazetted safe houses in Uganda.
Bobi Wine together with Mityana’s Francis Zaake and Latiff Sebaggala (Kawempe North) presented a list of people who have been picked by unknown vehicles and dropped at ungazetted safe houses.
Hon Latif Ssebaggala says a number of people under illegal safe houses who have contacted him, allege to have been arrested by Internal Security Organization (ISO) and Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence [CMI].
Some members on the Human Rights Committee were uncomfortable with Gen Tumwine’s assertion that some safe houses cannot be accessed.
Hon Angeline Osegge (FDC, Soroti) wondered whether it’s unconstitutional for Parliament to visit safe houses.
Gen Tumwine, in response, said he is aware of safe houses in Uganda but that he can’t ascertain their number.
Safe houses, he says, operate under the Security Intelligence Organisations Act.
On whether he owns a safe house in Nakasero as alleged by Hon Kyagulanyi, Tumwine denies allegation.
Tumwine says some of their functions include; to coordinate clandestine intelligence operations; to debrief and re-brief intelligence assets; to protect witnesses in danger, especially criminals who have turned into witnesses and secure persons who come seeking to be protected by the state for various security reasons.
Other functions are; to manage hard-core criminals who require a long time to reform and now need observation and surveillance and to secure persons who come seeking to be protected by the state for various security reasons.