The Minister for Security, Hon. Jim Muhwezi has been directed to find seven persons who have reportedly been missing since 2020.
This directive was made by members of the Committee on Human Rights where Muhwezi appeared on Thursday, 17 March 2020 to respond to allegations of human rights violations by security operatives.
Committee Chairperson, Hon. Fox Odoi said that John Ddamulira, Matthew Kafeero, Matthew Kigozi, Sarah Namayanja, Agnes Nabwere, George Kasumba and Ibrahim Chekede have not been seen for a long.
“We need help from government in finding these people. We must account for every citizen,” Odoi said.
He also tasked the minister to provide details of security agencies that are authorised to carry out arrests using cars without number plates commonly called drones.
“There is growing concern on the use of drones by people who arrest and torture suspects. Provide a written response indicating the security operatives authorised to use these vehicles,” said Odoi.
Fox Odoi also directed Muhwezi to provide a detailed response to allegations of safe houses where some suspects are tortured.
“We need to know if the Internal Security Organisation and External Security Organisation operate safe houses in the country,” he said.
Sironko District Woman representative, Hon. Florence Nambozo said that it is government’s responsibility to ensure the safety of all citizens adding that steps should be taken to stop illegal arrests and torture.
“Suspects are whisked away in cars without number plates to unknown destinations. Has government taken the initiative to find out who carries out such arrests,” she asked.
Kagadi District Woman MP, Hon. Jennifer Mbabazi tasked the minister to give steps being undertaken to deal with perpetrators of torture.
“What are the interventions being taken by government to end torture of suspects,” said Florence.
Muhwezi assured the MPs that investigations into allegations of the seven missing persons will be carried out adding that government does not condone illegal arrests and torture.
“Security operatives are under strict instructions to follow the law while arresting suspects. As part of the interventions to curb torture, there are continuous training and education of officers on observance of human rights while handling suspects,” he said.
Muhwezi said that he is slated to present a list of officers implicated in torture of suspects.
“I have the list here and I will present it in Parliament as directed by the Deputy Speaker. There are individuals who commit these crimes but government does not condone torture,” Muhwezi said.
He added that there are no safe houses in the country saying that previously, government had safe houses but they were used for training officers.
“If there are any safe houses currently, we request that you give us the addresses where they are so that we can follow up,” he said.
Muhwezi also said that allegations of involvement of ISO and ESO operatives in torturing suspects are not true.
“Investigations that were carried out by other government security agencies show that ISO and ESO do not carry out arrests of suspects, neither do they torture them,” he said.
The committee is investigating cases of alleged human rights violations by security operatives, following a directive by the Deputy Speaker, Anita Among during a plenary sitting on 08 February 2022.
On 03 February 2022, Opposition Members of Parliament led by the Leader of the Opposition, Hon. Mathias Mpuuga walked out of Parliament protesting what they termed as the continued violation of rights of Ugandans by security operatives.