Please don’t get Nalufenya closed, Kasingye begs MPs

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Nalufenya Police Station in Jinja district [Photo credit: Sudhir Byaruhanga]

Police spokesperson, Asan Kasingye, has pleaded with Members of Parliament not to recommend to the August House for the closure of Nalufenya detention facility infamous for torturing Ugandans to near death or death itself.

Kasingye made the plea on Friday during a meeting with Parliament Human Rights Committee which visited the facility on directives of Speaker Rebecca Kadaga.

The committee was led by Mitooma district MP, Jovah Kamateeka, who was accompanied by MPs Monica Amoding, Lilly Adong, David David, Veronica Isala, and Safia Nalule.

Media was not allowed in the Nalufenya meeting and had to wait all day in Jinja town until the Human Rights Committee Chair came out to brief them at the close of the meeting.

During the meeting held at the facility located in Jinja district, the police mouthpiece appealed to the MPs not to recommend the closure of the facility following allegations of torture.

“Kasingye appeals to Parliament’s Human Rights Committee not to recommend closure of Nalufenya,” parliament confirmed in a tweet.

“With the information on file, we believe we have the right people (suspects) including those who planned the murder of Kaweesi,” Kasingye said.

“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.

This week, Kasingye threatened to resign from the Uganda Police Force after his bosses quizzed him about the arrest of officers who tortured Kamwenge Town Council LC 3 Chairman, Geoffrey Byamukama.

Kasingye’s colleagues asked him to retract his statement that four suspects; Patrick Munanura and Fred Tumuhirwe, Sgt Tumukunde and Constable Ronnie Byenkya, had been arrested for torturing the mayor yet they were not in custody.

The tortured victim, Byamukama, is charged with other 15 suspects of murdering Assistant Inspector General of Police, Andrew Felix Kaweesi, his driver Kenneth Erau and bodyguard Godfrey Wambewo.

Nalufenya detainees cry to MPs

When the Kamateeka-led team reached Nalufenya today, Kamwenge Mayor Byamukama contradicted the officers, on when/where torture happened.

Byamukama told the team he was tortured between Kampala and Nalufenya while arresting officers say he was delivered there without a scratch.

“Several Nalufenya suspects say they are not aware of charges against them,” the MPs later told journalists.

On its twitter handle, Parliament said the suspects have no access to lawyers and have been detained for weeks without charge.

“Nalufenya suspects asked MPs to contact their spouses, relatives, many of whom do not know they are detained in the facility.”

Should the facility be closed?

Early in the week, Members of Parliament demanded for the immediate closure of torture chambers manned by police Flying Squad Unit (FSU).

Buhweju county MP, Hon. Francis Mwijukye, accuses these officers of torturing to death a one brother of lawyer Asumani Basalirwa.

Mwijukye recommended that Nalufenya detention facility be closed.

The Government Chief Whip, Hon. Ruth Nankabirwa, said that government did not condone torture and that the perpetrators of torture must be charged for among others, tarnishing the image of government.

Hon. Muwanga Kivumbi (DP, Butambala) cited more torture in Kisugu, Kireka and Kololo safe houses saying these too needed to be addressed.

Nakawa Municipality MP, Micheal Kabaziguruka, who was recently detained at the same facility for alleged treachery, confirmed the presence of torture chambers.

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“Nalufenya has group cells; if you are badly tortured, they isolate you and casually treat your wounds before going to court,” Kabaziguruka said during the “NBS TV morning breeze” programme.

While at Nalufenya, Kabaziguruka was denied medical access and the people he was arrested with “were physically beaten and tortured”.

Kadaga thus directed the House Committee on Human Rights to visit and inspect the Nalufenya detention facility.