One of the suspects detained is Kamwenge Town Council Chairman, Geoffrey Byamukama broke down in tears as he narrated how he had served the NRM for several years but wondered why he had been detained and tortured for alleged involvement in the murder of former Police spokesperson AIGP Andrew Felix Kaweesi.
Mr Byamukama has just returned from Nakasero Hospital where he received specialized treatment to sooth his torture wounds allegedly inflicted on him by security officers at Nalufenya detention facility.
This was during a visist by members of the Human Rights Committee of Parliament who were tasked by Speaker Rebecca Kadaga to establish the legal status of the facility and inquire from detained persons and Police officers about the allegations of torture against suspects.
Inside the facility, criminal suspects, individually speaking to MPs, denied they had been tortured in Nalufenya or that any torture had been witnessed but said they had been detained without access to legal representation, family or communication.
Officers who tortured Byamukama have since been arrested on accusations of high handedness and acting outside acceptable police standards.
Byamukama, held in staff quarters, with proper beddings including a mosquito net narrated his harrowing experience: how he was arrested from the Lands Office on Parliament Avenue in Kampala and how he was handcuffed and tortured using batons (to the knees) and iron bars (to the ankles) leaving him unable to walk, sit or stand before being delivered to Nalufenya.
“I thought about the time I had served government,” he said adding, “The doctors said it will take me time – between six months and a year, before I’ll be able to walk.”
“Officers here were concerned about my condition and have cared for me. I am not sure I would survive if I had been taken elsewhere,” said Byamukama.
Although Byamukama’s account that he was tortured before getting to Nalufenya, where he said he had to be lifted out of the van, tallied with that given by Police officers – ACP Herbert Muhangi, D/SSP Henry Mugumya and ACP James Kusemererwa, the two arresting officers – ASP Patrick Muramira and ASP Fred Tumuhirwa gave a contrary account.
Both officers and two Police drivers Ben Odeke and Roma Habibu have been arrested and are also detained in Nalufenya over allegations of torturing Byamukama.
They explained the arrest: “We arrested him through phone tracking. We introduced ourselves and explained to him about the ongoing investigations about Kaweesi. We put him in a van and brought him here (Nalufenya),” said Muramira adding “The Mayor was delivered here without any open would or a scratch. He walked from the van to the counter. We can view the images on the CCTV cameras.”
Officers told legislators that several of the suspects in Nalufenya are on charges of terrorism, abetting terrorism, aggravated robbery and murder. Most of the suspects have been detained for over the Constitutional requirement of 48 hours without being produced in court.
Police Spokesperson AIGP Asan Kasingye said that the Uganda Police did not condone torture and that anyone accused of the crime would be prosecuted.
“We will put right the issues that we haven’t been doing right such that we protect the people under our custody. If we close Nalufenya, terrorism will not stop. Let us put right the things we have not been doing right, but let’s not close Nalufenya,” he added.
Parliament to debate Nalufenya
Meanwhile, Speaker Kadaga has said Parliament will dedicate Tuesday next week to debate issues surrounding torture after a presentation of the Statement by the Minister of Internal Affairs and a Report by the Committee on Human Rights.