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Saturday, December 14, 2019

Police bar Uganda MPs from accessing alleged torture houses

Ugandan MPs investigating allegations that security forces have been torturing detainees have been prevented from accessing buildings where some of the torture is said to have taken place.

The unmarked facilities, close to the capital, Kampala, look like regular houses but are guarded by soldiers. The neighbours say they fear going near them.

The MPs, from parliament’s human rights committee, have heard testimony from several people saying they had been picked up, taken to the buildings, tortured and then dumped at police stations.

Muslim cleric, Ismail Kalule, is one of those who has said he was mistreated.

He has been arrested six times in the past 11 years and he said that on four of those occasions he was taken to these unmarked houses.

Describing the torture, he said he was ordered to pluck out his beard hair by hair.

“Naturally it is so painful, so I failed to do so – so they slapped me a lot.”

The MPs tried to access one of the places where Mr Kalule says he was tortured but they were denied entry to that building and the others.

Latif Ssebagala, an independent MP, said the actions of the security personnel at the houses were deeply suspicious.

“It is really horrible, we cannot stand as a human rights committee to watch Ugandans suffering,” he said.

“We have seen many being released without any charge after being in these facilities for one year, two years and we have seen many of them are almost deformed.”

The government has confirmed the presence of unmarked security facilities in Uganda, but says they are only used to carry out intelligence operations.

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