By Spy Uganda
The Parliament of Uganda has summoned the Attorney General William Byaruhanga over allegations that security forces in Uganda, tortured the Cheiftaincy of Military Intelligence, has to date defied a court order to either free or produce Simo Peter Odongo, an operative with the Internal Security Organisation (ISO), who was arrested two months back.
According to the Parliament Order Paper for the 11th Sitting of the 1st Meeting of the 5th Session of the 10th Parliament of Uganda, sitting Wednesday July 1st, 2020 at 2:00Pm, one the items to be deliberated upon is the “Defiance of a Court Order for the Production of a one Odongo Simon Peter, an Employee of Internal Security Organisation before a Competent Court Within 48 Hours.”
However, the time of filing this story the AG Byaruhang has neither appeared before Parliament nor made any official communication as to why.
While commenting about Odongo’s continued detention by the CMI, city human rights lawyer Nicholas Opiyo tweeted on Wednesday thus;”The CMI & UPDF have defied two court orders to release Simon Peter Odongo, an ISO contractor they’ve held incommunicado, severely tortured (by inserting tubes from the tip of his penis to the bladder; shot in the leg & left with a festering wound) @KagutaMuseveni @UPDFspokespersn.”
Who is Simon Peter Odongo?
Odongo, an ISO Operative, operating in Kirinya, Bweyogerere, Wakiso Districts was arrested on May 4th, 2020, at about 8:00Am, by a team of security operatives who raided the home.
Capt. Robert Kandole’s affidavit states that Odongo was detained for unlawful possession of a pistol with rounds of ammunition and a UPDF camouflage uniform.
While some sources claim Odongo was accused of concocting evidence to frame senior security and army personnel, others claim his arrest was prompted by institutional cloak-and-dagger methods.
However, Odongo’s wife Annet Kiiza, in her affidavit, revealed that the arresting officers included the Chief of Militancy Intelligence (CMI) soldiers, the officer- in charge of Kirinya Police Station, only identified as Tabu, together with a police officer who identified himself as Benon Ayebare, from Kireka Special Investigations Unit.
Kiiza said that; “He (Tabu) is the one who led the team to different rooms in the house while I was being forced by the soldier who shot my husband to clean the blood quickly. During the arrest, one of the arresting officers shot my husband in the leg with a pistol after he had been subdued in the corridor to the bedroom, and was seriously injured in the leg causing profuse bleeding.”
A search without a warrant was conducted by the agents during which the suspect’s property, including two laptops, one drone, one GPS, six mobile phones, Shs4m cash and several other personal documents were taken by the arresters.
However, what surprises Odongo’s family members that the UPDF, CMI, ISO and Uganda Police Force have to date never issued an official statement about why he was arrested or produced him in court to be charged with any offences, despite two orders from the High Court to that effect.
Court Awards Odongo Damages For Torture
On June 26th, 2020, the High court in Kampala awarded Shs250m Odongo. Before his arrest, it was alleged that UPDF soldiers who were on duty distributing food to vulnerable people affected by the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown in Kampala, were accosted by Odongo who was in the company of two other people.
Eventually, the soldiers withdrew and alerted their superiors who organized a joint force of the police and the UPDF who arrested Odongo. He was reportedly kept at the Police Special Investigation Unit at Kireka as investigations into the matter commenced.
While in the hands of the police and the military, according to documents before the court, he was tortured and also denied access to his family and doctors.
His wife Caroline Odongo Turyatemba filed for habeas corpus [to be produced in court dead or alive] orders which were granted by justice Michael Elubu who was hearing the matter on June 2.
However, the Attorney General, the police and the Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence (CMI) who were the respondents in the matter, failed to produce him on the decreed date.
That prompted another application by Turyatemba whose ruling was delivered Friday June 26th, 2020, by Dr Alex Mushabe Karocho, the deputy registrar on behalf of the judge.
“It’s hereby ordered that the subject of the application Simon Peter Odongo has suffered infringement of his fundamental rights of freedom from torture… His right to liberty was infringed,” the court observed.
As a recourse, the court ordered that the respondents (Attorney General, CMI and Inspector General of Police) to pay Shs200m for all the violations he has suffered and another Shs50m for exemplary damages for contempt of court.
The court further directed that government produces Odongo before a competent court within 48 hours of the order. In the event that he’s not produced, the ruling added, “Court issues a conditional release order forthwith.”
Recently the Uganda Human Rights Commission disclosed that government owes torture victims up to a tune of Shs6 trillion in damages awarded by courts of law.
In court, Turyatemba was represented by James Byamukama while the government was represented by Charity Nabaasa.
However, to date, Odongo has not appeared in court and the UPDF spokesperson Brig. Richard Karemire is tightlipped, just as the Attoreny General and IGP Martins Okoth Okello are.