Opinion: Tumwiine thinks his above the law in concern of the safe-houses

What I know is there is safe houses but you (MPs) will not be allowed to go there because the laws does not permit you” – Gen. Elly Tumwiine on 28th August 2019

General Elly Tumwiine, the Security Minister and the one who has the oversight and governing role over the safe houses, the Police Force and so-on. The General has blocked the Human Rights Committee from the Parliament to access the Safe Houses. As they should be able to assess and report on the works of the state.

Alas, the General has denied that and even asked for the MPs to ask forgiveness for doing so. As they humiliated the owners and the ones whose running these houses. What is out of this world and lack of understanding of his role as a Minister. His not a higher ranking, above the people, but a servant of the public. His Security Ministry is in-charge of Internal Security Organization (ISO), External Security Organization (ESO) and Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence (CMI).

The National Resistance Movement (NRM) apparently needs these Safe Houses, as they are still keeping Nalufenya Prison also. The NRM are not interested in disclosing or stopping these practices. That is why the Parliament and the Committee are doing this to the General. Since, the General are not willing to let them overlook the acts of it.

Like the NTV report today:

Parliament has adopted a motion to censure Security Minister Gen Elly Tumwine for blocking the committee from visiting safe houses and repeated contempt of parliament and the office of the speaker. This follows a report of parliament’s Human Rights Committee that faulted Tumwine for blocking the committee’s work on safe houses, before also stopping the Director of Internal Security Organizations Col Kaka Bagyenda from appearing before the committee” (NTV Uganda, 05.02.2020).

The Parliament is not wrong looking into it. The General should be worried, when you easily access horrific stories of people whose been taken into these places without trial. Tumwine might think he can do it, because there is no repercussions for his actions. Neither will the NRM take any hits for this. Even as they continuing the post-colonial legacy of it. This practice was before the NRM and will hopefully be abolished after it.

The word “safe house” has now almost gone out of use in Uganda, but multiple sources within the police and accounts by people who have been subjected to torture recently suggest that such places still exist. In his narration to the MPs, the tortured Byamukama said the beating that nearly ended his life did not happen in Nalufenya, for instance. He was blind-folded and driven to a location within Kampala City where he was tortured and was only dropped in Nalufenya after the fact” (Eriasa Sserunjogi – ‘ON WHOSE ORDERS? Torture as an instrument of repression in Uganda’, The Elephant, 29.07.2017).

Gen. Tumwiine knows these stories, there been several cases in Court, which the state has lost. As they are breaching the Constitution and their own laws. By not abiding to it, as they are not gazetted neither are the detained and tortured individuals following the courts nor the rule of law.

That is why Nalufenya is still a thing in 2020. He might be censored, but that will not change the fact of the innocent behind bars and tortured in ungazetted safe-houses across the Republic. Where people who dissent or who are troublesome to the NRM are put. Without trial, without justice and without answering in courts of law. They are guilty before even proven innocent. Instead of being innocent until proven guilty. Peace.

FYI: The use of Safe Houses are unconstitutional and Gen. Tumwiine is wrong!

What I know is there is safe houses but you (MPs) will not be allowed to go there because the laws does not permit you” Gen. Elly Tumwiine on 28th August 2019

Gen. Elly Tumwiine is again defending the indefensible. Where he is now apologetic in the concern of the safe houses, which is ungazetted arround the Republic. This is the Minster of Security, the one whose the head of the operations and he has no issues with them.

The Minister confirmed that indeed there were safe houses in Uganda and noted that safe houses were not peculiar to Uganda but they are a worldwide intelligence practice.

He told the Committee that some of the functions of safe houses included:

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” (Parliament Watch Uganda, 28.09.2019).

Clearly, the state misuse the Safe Houses, these unverified locations to keep people they have as suspects. It is a reason why this is problematic. Because, the people taken there is kept for long, without warrants, court orders or even following their citizens rights.

When the General speaks of permission, what in his right mind does he have to take away the public civil liberties and their constitutional rights?

Have the NRM during the time of Gen. Tumwiine at any point suspended the 1995 Constitution to give a free-for-all and take everyone as suspects before trial, before sentencing and discovery of evidence? Because that is what this seems.

Thanks to ulii.org and several of Court Cases, where innocent civilians was put into these Safe Houses and later won for damages against the state. These cases uses certain laws, which I will copy. To prove the misgivings within the law of the Republic for having these places. No matter, what Tumwiine says. Because, the Republic can never repay him back for his sacrifices, not even with their time and their freedoms apparently.

Lets look briefly at some pieces of legislation. Shall we?

Article 28 clause 1 of the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda as follows:-

In the determination of Civil Rights and obligations or any criminal charge a person shall be entitled to a fair, speedy and public hearing before an independent and impartial court or tribunal established by law”

Article 44(a) of The Constitution of The Republic of Uganda states:

Notwithstanding anything in this constitution, there shall be no derogation from enjoyment the following rights and freedoms-

(a)Freedom from torture and cruel, in human or degrading treatment or punishment.”

The National Resistance Army (Application to Civilians) Regulations 1996, Regulation 5(1) provides that – “upon arrest of civilian, that civilian may be detained in a military cell and shall be brought before a military court not later than forty eight hours after arrest”.

While these legislation proves how the state are supposed threat there suspects, but that is not what they do.

I will take some snippets from a court case dating to the Judgment on 19th August 2019 –

“THE HIGH COURT OF UGANDA, CIVIL SUIT NO. 386 OF 2014, LT. (RTD) GEORGE KIGGUNDU:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::: PLAINTIFF VERSUS ATTORNEY GENERAL::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::: DEFENDANT, BEFORE HON. JUSTICE MUSA SSEKAANA”.

As the Plaintiff testified this: “He testified that he was taken to the Head of Investigations Captain Mbahweza Ceaser who was a captain at the time, now a Colonel, who had a heap of sticks and started beating/assaulting him and asked him to remove his shoes and later locked him up in the toilet at Chieftaincy of Military of Intelligence. He was not informed of the reason why he was being beaten. PW1 further testified that was repeatedly beaten to a point when he started bleeding profusely. He was detained in some place in Kololo, which he came to know was a safe house in the dungeons. The plaintiff further testified that after about two weeks he was asked to make a statement that was when he was told that he was suspected to be recruiting PRA (Peoples Redemption Army) and ADF (Allied Democratic Forces) in areas of Kasese, Kampala and Masindi to which he responded that he did not know anything to do with any rebel activity. He insisted that evidence be brought forward connecting him to the allegations but to date nobody ever brought any evidence against him. Pw1 stated that spent sixty one (61) days in detention in a safe house under extreme torture, sleeping on floor, no visitors, and no treatment. As a result of that torture and detention, PW1 testified that he became black as a result of skin disorder, was beaten on his left leg and suffered severe grievous head Injuries” (High Court Judgment, 19th August 2019).

We are seeing a pattern of this, where the state keeps suspect without their constitutional rights respected, neither the lawful procedure, as the state has decided that a certain individual is a suspect and therefore, can be handled with the full arm of the law. Without any warrant, court order or sentencing. This is just one man out of plenty.

Lt. George Kiggundu got 20 million shillings in damages, which was a nearly half of what he sought out for, which was 50 million shillings. However, this proves that High Court see the damages, the way the CMI and most like ISO is breaking the laws in concern of the safe houses.

That is why I had to write to day and put pieces together. Because, Tumwiine wouldn’t want to end up with the treatment of Lt. George Kiggundu any day of the week. No one should, because, you should have fair trial and process. To see if the state is right about the possible crimes a person has committed. With the safe houses, all people are fair game and whatever snoops of intelligence the ISO/CMI/Flying Squad has gotten. They can abduct, torture and detain someone for long without the legal justifications for doing so. Plus breaking the law, by making the supposed suspects victims of state violence against them. Where the state justifiably breaks the articles of the Constitution and other laws to be able to hurt, damage and scorn people for life.

Just because Tumwiine and the NRM is afraid someone might be a criminal or spy, without even having the evidence. Therefore, they need houses to torture the incriminating evidence instead of gathering it and proving it to the Courts, that the person in question is planning/doing/evidentially connected to the sort of activity that would put their life in legal jeopardy. But the way the state is doing it.

They are not doing it right, not acting right and using the passage of power as a government and authorities to bring the peace. They are actually acting, as if people are guilty before they are proven innocent. Instead of everyone is innocent before proven guilty. Peace.