Gov’t operates ‘safe houses’ but you’ll not visit them, Gen Tumwine tells MPs

Without mincing words, Security Minister Gen. Elly Tumwine has told Parliament’s Human Rights committee that indeed government operates ‘safe houses’ though not as torture chambers but for clandestine intelligence operations not torturing or killing citizens.

Much as Tumwine confirmed the existence of ‘safe houses’, he told the committee that their status as MPs is not enough to guarantee them access to the confinement places due to security restrictions.

He told the MPs that world over, security agencies operate such facilities for purposes of gathering information, briefing and debriefing, securing vulnerable witnesses and keep hardened criminals.

Tumwine on Wednesday appeared before that committee that is currently investigating allegations of the existence of safe houses at Kyengera in Wakiso district and Lwamayiba in Kalangala district from which government allegedly tortures opposition supporters.

Bobi Wine taking on Gen Elly Tumwine during the committee hearing

Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga directed the committee two weeks ago to investigate the claims that were taken to Parliament by Kawempe North MP Latif Ssebaggala Ssengendo.

Ssebaggala and his Kyadondo East counterpart, Robert Kyagulanyi aka Bobi Wine  – who has consistently accused security agencies of torturing supporters of his people power movement attended the committee proceedings.

During the committee meeting, Kyagulanyi put it to Tumwine that he operates a ‘safe house’ in Kampala’s upscale neighbourhood of Nakasero a charge that the minister roundly denied.

“I don’t know of any house where they kill people. I am not aware where there is a torture house, whoever alleges must prove. I don’t own a safe house under the ministry, where people are tortured”, Tumwine said.

The committee proceedings however after some MPs found Gen Tumwine disrespectiful to the committee especially after he told them that their powers have limits.

Committee Chairperson Jennifer Nantume Egunyu sent away Tumwine asking him to return at a later date when he is more prepared to answer all questions put to him.