ISO faces new accusations of torture on Lake Victoria

The Internal Security Organization  (ISO) – Uganda’s counter intelligence agency is facing renewed accusations of torture, this time round from locals neighbouring one of its notorious detention facilities.

The latest accusations are from residents of Bunjazi, Bukasa, Buyovu, Kitobo and Bufumira Islands in Kalangala district.

ISO established a detention facility commonly known a safe house on Lwamayi Island in Lake Victoria which, according to personal accounts of the fishermen and local leaders, is a source of torture to not only the detainees but fishermen who operate within its vicinity.

Lwamayiba is situated in Bufumira Sub County in Kalangala district. It was formerly public land.

In 2007, Col. Frank Bagyenda Kaka applied for a lease to farm on the island.

He set up a safe house on the island when he was appointed the Director General of the Internal Security Organization.

Members of Parliamentary Human Rights committee investigating allegations of torture of suspects have wanted to visit the safe house but Security Minister, Elly Tumwine says,  the MPs can only allow legislators to visit the area under very specific terms and conditions.

Prior to the establishment of the safe house, residents would fish freely around the island without any restrictions.

However, the Kyamuswa Sub County LC III Chairperson, Charles Kavuma, says several fishermen who go fishing around the island are tortured by the soldiers and all their fishing gear impounded.

Edris Kasozi, a fisherman on Kisaba Landing site in a phone interview said that the ISO operatives at the Lwamayiba safe house impounded his boat while fishing close to the island and have never returned it.

A fortnight ago, two fishermen identified as Richard Mutale and Walter Kasirye drowned while being pursued by the operatives.

The two drowned when they jumped in the lake for fear of being apprehended.

Musa Nsubuga, the Lwamayiba Chairperson, denied accusations of tortured leveled against the ISO operatives.

Similarly, the Kalangala District Internal Security Officer, James Kalinge, said he wasn’t aware of the alleged torture of residents involving ISO operatives.

He promised to communicate with the ISO Director General, Frank Bagyenda Kaka to investigate the claims.

“I will forward this information to my bosses. I encourage you to report such cases to my office for evidence gathering,” Kalinge said.

Kyamuswa MP Carol Nanyondo, said, it time leaders stood up against the atrocities committed by security agencies.

“We can no longer hide, Lwamayiba is a detention center. Parliament didn’t approve Lwamayiba to become a detention center, if we wake up one day and find soldiers, as leaders, we shouldn’t shut our ears,” Nanyondo said.