Security minister, Gen Henry Tumukunde, has accepted culpability on behalf of the country’s security organs for the torture meted out on Ugandans.
Tumukunde was Tuesday speaking at the office of the president twin towers building in Kampala on “Media Coverage and National Security in Uganda”.
“We own up. The tortured victim was a mistake and we stand to be corrected,” Tumukunde said referring to the Kamwenge town council mayor, Geoffrey Byamukama, who was tortured by police suspecting him to had taken part in the murder of former police boss, AIGP Andrew Kaweesi.
Tumukunde who believes information is power and perceptions can be changed by different types of media, called upon security agencies to accept their mistakes when they are in the wrong.
“When you make a mistake own up, apologise, and don’t keep suspects after finding you have a wrong person.”
The General says one cannot be a democracy if one does not account to the people who voted.
“Security is not good uniforms or security cameras we are soon to have. It needs to be felt by the people.”
As far security is concerned, Tumukunde said Uganda is secure despite the few mistakes here and there and “we promise to keep the country secure”.
“I have invited all security agencies, the military, police, prisons, intelligence is here too although we are not in uniform, raise the accusations you have been raising. Whoever among us is at fault, it’s an honourable thing to own up.”
He added: “The Mission of coming together is to interface security with press because we both have a duty to defend the population. By end of the day, we need to have come to a conclusion of what accountability in a democracy is.”
He said social media is the voice to the vulnerable to air out their views freely calling upon journalists not to shy away from difficult or sensitive topics such as human rights.
Speaking on the same event, NBS television chief executive officer, Kin Kariisa, called for a co-existence of Media Freedom and National Security in Uganda.
“We need to tell our Ugandan story; we do not have another place to call home, let’s make it a better place.”
He added: “You have reduced communication. What is the issue? Is it deliberate? The hardest thing to do now is get a Minister to comment on something. Mzei mumulese affe n’ekintu yekka?”
He asked government to give journalists information before there is a crisis.
“Tell us what you are doing. During crisis, be factual! Media houses gave government free airtime. Use it to tell us what you are doing. I urge regular press briefings.”
He further asked police to have a human face as it deals with journalists.
“Do not beat them up, they are simply messengers.”
Speaking on the same subject, Prime Minister, Hon Ruhakana Rugunda, said media should look for information diligently and cautiously.
“Let’s commit ourselves and ensure that Uganda is secure. If Uganda is not secure, your workplace or home might be the target,” Rugunda noted.
He added: “The responsibility of making sure Uganda is secure is a collective responsibility, not just work for the government.”