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“There is noth­ing which is open to every­one, there are lim­i­ta­tions to every­thing even in your house; and there are ar­eas which some peo­ple don’t reach. There are ar­eas which for se­cu­rity rea­sons, this com­mit­tee is not al­lowed to visit.” This was a state­ment by Gen­eral Elly Tumwine the Se­cu­rity Min­is­ter while ap­pear­ing be­fore the Par­lia­men­tary Com­mit­tee of Hu­man Rights. The Min­is­ter had been in­vited to up­date the com­mit­tee on the state of Safe houses in Uganda.

This fol­lows a mo­tion raised be­fore the Au­gust House by Kawempe North’s Hon. La­teef Sse­bag­gala, Lwemiyaga County MP Theo­dre Sekikubo and Hon. Kasiano Wadiri for Gen Tumwine to ex­plain what the Gov­ern­ment con­ducted il­le­gal ar­rests and de­ten­tions of Ugan­dans in “safe houses” with­out trial.

In a heated dis­cus­sion, the Com­mit­tee de­manded that the Min­is­ter re­spond to among other things; whether in­deed there were safe houses in Uganda, the num­ber of safe houses, un­der which laws they were op­er­at­ing, how peo­ple were taken to safe houses, who qual­i­fied to be kept in safe houses and why was it that ma­jor­ity of per­sons who were be­ing kept the safe houses were from the op­po­si­tion par­ties specif­i­cally, “peo­ple power.”(Pres­sure group)

Gen­eral Tumwine in­formed the com­mit­tee that Uganda had safe houses and noted that safe houses were se­cure places used for in­tel­li­gence work. He fur­ther said that all in­tel­li­gence and se­cu­rity agen­cies world over op­er­ate safe houses and that the run­ning of safe houses was not pe­cu­liar to Uganda but a world­wide in­tel­li­gence prac­tice.  He high­lighted that some func­tions of a safe house in Uganda 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.

The Min­is­ter in his re­marks crit­i­cised the com­mit­tee for not giv­ing him enough time to an­swer ques­tions that had been put to him to re­spond to.