By Andrew Irumba
Parliament of Uganda has cleared the Human Rights committee of Parliament to visit the alleged torture chambers at Kyengera and Kalangala.
Presiding over the Thursday August 29 plenary, Deputy Speaker Rt. Hon. Jacob Oulanya told the Human Rights Chairperson Committee, Hon. Jenipher Egunyu that parliament should not be intimidated by the statements made by the Security Minister General Elly Tumwine.
He further said, visiting the alleged torture chambers as directed by the speaker Rebecca Kadaga is a mandate of parliament and nobody should dare block legislators from visiting such places.
Egunyu was the first to ask the interpretation of the speaker on whether the petitioner and a committee member Latif Ssebagala is at liberty to continue the ongoing investigations into the alleged safe houses at Kyengera and Kalangala.
It should be remembered that last week, Gen. Tumwine told MPs that for security reasons, there are areas where the Committee is not allowed to visit, like the Safe Houses.
Tumwine also told the house that the constitution supersedes the role of MPs, a statement which angered the MPs.
However Latiff Ssebagala, the Kawempe North MP said that the Committee on Human Rights is investigating torture and therefore they can’t be stopped from visiting safe houses.
Nantume asked the Minister to make it clear if the committee cannot visit safe houses, yet they are supposed to monitor Government compliance to human rights requirements.
Kyadondo East MP Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu said the Minister was failing to cooperate with the committee and was being unapologetic of the fact that several Ugandans are being mistreated and held incommunicado. He pointed out the fact that the minister doesn’t deny then existence of Safe Houses, but is trying to assure MPs that even if they are there, they are not allowed to visit them.
MP for Kalungu West Joseph Gonzaga Ssewungu condemned the arrogance exhibited by the Security Minister Gen. Elly Tumwine in trying to block committee members from visiting the alleged safe houses.
To other legislators the speaker’s directive is a clear statement that nobody should stampede the works of Parliament vowing to accompany the human rights committee on establishing the truth in these safe houses.