DWT IN SAFE HOUSES IS NOW AN ACCEPTABLE NORM
CHANGE OF GUARDS - When the Ugandan dictator's schemes to forcefully hold onto power became more pronounced over a decade ago, he resorted to kidnap and detention of his political opponents in ungazetted secret detention facilities. Security agencies like civil intelligence (ISO), military intelligence (CMI), police and other adhoc intelligence outfits all ran safe houses. The essence was for victims to be subjected to Detention Without Trial (DWT) while undergoing gruesome physical torture aimed at extracting confessions. Safe houses provided an opportunity for the regime to disassociate itself from such a vice in the event the victims died or sued for damages. The global fight against terrorism was used as a cover to suppress internal political dissent. Security operatives used the leverage to even detain and torture for personal reasons i.e extortion, debt collection, business rivalry, power struggles, revenge etc.
Initially the regime denied that it was running any safe houses save for the main one at Kololo that houses the Joint Anti Terrorism Task Force (JATF). At one time it claimed to have closed down all such safe houses but the truth is that they continue to exist to this day. It's only the police that had abandoned the use of safe houses after it established its official DWT and torture facility at the infamous Nalufenya. When it was recently cosmetically closed down, gullible Ugandans celebrated the "end of detention without trial and torture".
With the ongoing crackdown on recently sacked Gen. Kalekyezi's loyalists, ISO and CMI are taking the lead and Ugandans are once again cheering on without questioning or pondering to know where the so called suspects are held. Take the example of Movit proprietor, Simpson Birungi who was kidnapped and held by ISO at a safe house for 45 days. At one time they even arrogantly allowed his wife to visit him; which is a new development in the history of safe houses. I hope Uganda Human Rights Commission (UHRC) picks interest and she leads them to the venue around Kyengera for inspection.
The family petitioned the High Court which issued an order for the Attorney General and DG/ISO to appear and explain the illegal detention of Simpson Birungi. The regime directed the two officials to just ignore the court order. Consequently, the same High Court further issued an order for the unconditional release of Simpson Birungi but was also ignored. It was at this stage that the Uganda Law Society appealed to the DPP to investigate "transgression of the law" by ISO and AG. ULS went further to threaten private prosecution of the two regime officials.
ULS very well knows, and if it didn't know, the DG/ISO and AG could not ignore High Court orders without the approval of Museveni. Similarly, ISO could not have kidnapped and detained Simpson Birungi in a safe house for 45 days without the approval of Museveni. It is the same Museveni who has approved his release from detention and not ULS' empty threats of commencing private prosecution. This also serves to show that even the recent raids on both the MTN servers and Lands office by ISO were fully approved by Museveni. The raiding of Parliament, raiding of courts to reverse court orders and the arrest and detention of M.Ps among other vices, must all be approved by Museveni.
Therefore, kidnappings and detention without trial (DWT) is no longer a secret but an official Standard Operational Procedure (SOP) by the regime security apparatus. The level of arrogance exhibited in allowing even the families of victims to visit them in Safe Houses serves to confirm that it is now an acceptable norm. Not all that are held in these safe houses are lucky enough to come out alive or without any physical scratch like Simpson Birungi. Can anyone still talk about constitutionalism and rule of law?
INFORMATION IS POWER AND THE PROBLEM OF UGANDA IS MUSEVENISM.