Minister confirms government operating ungazzetted torture safe houses in Uganda.

Mr Muruli Mukasa  the Minister for Security.

Minister Murili Mukasa’s Confirmation of operating safe house in the country Contrary to reports by human rights defenders that Uganda continues to run detention facilities where individuals are held incommunicado and tortured, the Minister for Security has said the houses are a sanctuary for informants.

According to daily monitor news paper of 15/Feb./2012 minister Mr. Muruli Mukasa confirmed that the Uganda Government is still operating illegal detention centers known as safe houses, despite the Uganda parliament having abolished them in 1995 .

These safe houses re-emerged in 2001 during the election campaigns and have been operating with no official condemnation or effort to close them down, they have been used by security operatives to torture and kill people that oppose government.

All along the Ugandan government has kept on denying about the existences of such houses and yet they have been a number of reports of torture of suspects in these ungazzetted detention centers, while the constitution of Uganda prohibits torture, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment of suspects.

In these safe houses suspects are held there for longer than the statutory period of 48 hours, within which they are supposed to be charged, the screening of suspects does not have a time frame, people are subject to physical torture by severe beatings or psychologically and mentally tortured through interrogation, threats to their lives and the presentation of other persons who had already been tortured.

They are held in communicado during detention. In Uganda the practice of detaining people illegally has not been resolved for a long period of time, you find some police stations having suspects, who are guarded by the Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence.

These prisoners are not the responsibility of the police. The government has been emboldened to use these methods of work with impunity , It can now use crude methods to tackle problems without fearing retribution from the international community under the pretext of terrorism .

I remember in 2002 Wembley VCCU employed a shoot-on sight policy and generally undermined the principle of the rule of law as suspects were shot at point blank range, detained in military facilities and denied due process of law guaranteed under the Uganda Constitution, a total of 452 suspects were arrested under this operation.

Many of the suspects were tortured, beaten at time of arrest by people who did not identity themselves, blindfolded and took them to unknown, ungazetted, illegal places of detention, army barracks or safe houses. The concept of safe houses also goes against the Uganda constitution, which states that a person arrested, restricted or detained shall be kept in a place authorized by law.

Most victims of illegal detentions are political opposition members accused of treason or terrorism,  Others are accused of having engaged in or witnessed criminal activity such as murder or robbery, while some link their abuse to personal disputes and vendettas by officials’ .These agencies have defied laws regulating arrest and detention with no consequences.

So many people have lost their beloved ones in these torture chambers. i therefore appeal to the international community and human right activists to put pressure on Museveni’s government to close down these safe houses and make sure that the perpetuators are brought to face justice.