Thursday, 5 September 2019

UGANDA: Parliament plots to legalise "safe houses"


Museveni's rubber stamp parliament is once again embroiled in running battles with the Minister of Security, Gen. Elly Tumwine over the regime's torture chambers dubbed Safe Houses. These torture chambers are illegal detention facilities that have been used and abused by the Museveni regime for the last three decades to illegally detain and torture real and perceived political opponents. While in the past the regime would deny and hide both the torture chambers and victims, of recent it has made no secret of concealing the same.

It is against this background that Parliament picked on the public outcry before the Speaker put the Minister of Security to task. The parliamentary committee on human rights was also tasked to probe the same. Instead the committee opted to conduct a boardroom probe by pleading with key players to testify. It is in this regard that Gen. Tumwine appeared before the committee but only to express his usual arrogance. He confirmed that those safe houses are several and widespread before he repeated his earlier statement that M.PS will not be allowed to visit the premises.

He was responding to a list of 20 amateur questions that had been set by the committee members. Instead of zeroing on the legality of unconstitutional kidnaps, detention in ungazetted places and torture, the scared committee members were simply moving in circles. In particular, the committee chairperson and some committee members who are living in anticipation of being seconded by Gen. Tumwine for future ministerial positions, developed cold feet. Gen. Tumwine frankly told off the committee that the heads of the security agencies that the committee reluctantly intended to invite, will not come.

In fact, Gen. Tumwine is proving to be more of a parliamentary Political Commissar - more concerned with brainwashing young parliamentarians with regime ideology than a Minister of security. By the way, Gen. Tumwine does not even know where these safe houses are and the response he gives are only given to him by the heads of security agencies. However, by his arrogant character and personal fights with the Speaker, he views fellow M.Ps as a swarm of house flies stampeding over a rotten 'something' in a village path.

Going by the trend of events, it's clear that the regime is seeking to tame parliament and the general public into coming to terms with this evil. The regime is desperately determined to continue operating these torture chambers at all costs. Given the situation on the ground, Parliament, civil society and the general public can do much to reverse the regime's resolve. Uganda Law Society has gone to the dogs with the top executives preoccupied with self preservation. It is only if a concerned citizen can lodge a constitutional petition then court can make a declaration at least for record purposes. Moreover, a few years ago, court pronounced itself on the illegality of trial of civilians in military courts but the regime has ignored the ruling and the vice continues unabated. By the way, these Kangaroo military courts provide a quasi legal backup to the operations of torture chambers.


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