MPs finally recommend closure of Nalufenya death chambers

Close Nalufenya or take it away from here, Jinja MP asks Parliament

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The Observer's Cartoon of the week: Introducing officers from Nalufenya

The ruling NRM Woman MP for Jinja district, Ms Loy Katali, has demanded that Nalufenya torture chamber located in her home district either be closed down with immediate effect or moved away to another place.

“We residents of Jinja ask that Nalufenya be taken to another district and removed from Jinja for it scares our residents,” she told plenary presided over by Speaker Rebecca Kadaga on Tuesday.

Her plea came after Mitooma Woman MP, Jovah Kamateeka, who led the parliamentary Human Rights committee to probe alleged cases of torture at Nalufenya detention, read out her report on the floor of the August house.

In her report, Kamateeka said as directed by Speaker on the 17th May, 2017 to travel to Nalufenya detention, the MPs visited Jinja to establish the legal status of Nalufenya Police facility especially in regard to the detention of suspects.

She discovered that Nalufenya detention facility is a gazetted police station that has been in existence since independence.

“Members of the media were denied access to Nalufenya and MPs not allowed to carry their gadgets,” she told the house, adding that Nalufenya operates as a special police facility dedicated to handling high profile cases.

“Prior to going to Nalufenya, many of the detainees were transported to Luzira,” she said, clarifying that their interactions with the officers accused of torturing the mayor, denied the accusations.

“The Police officers also offered CCV TV footage claiming that the Mayor was brought into Nalufenya walking. The Human rights committee didn’t also independently verify the allegations of torture since the visit wasn’t impromptu.”

The committee observes that given the fact the visit was not spontaneous, it couldn’t verify the real conditions, Kamateeka concluded.

The Member of Parliament for Kilak North, Anthony Akol, said the document presented by the officers who run Nalufenya couldn’t be verified for they had no stamp or even headed paper.

“The beddings, cleaning of the Nalufenya appeared like they were prepared for the committee. The arresting officers of the Mayor informed the committee that the Mayor was tortured in Nalufenya.”

Akol said the two senior officers accused of torture were never arrested and they are still walking free in Jinja.

“The suspects in Nalufenya are held without knowledge of their families and have no access to their medical doctors,” he noted, adding that the tortured suspects were hidden but the committee had checked the detention medical record books.

According to Akol, the medical records showed suspects treated with conditions like soft tissues injures, open wounds, bruises and deformed.

“Nalufenya is an illegal detention facility since the circular from IGP written revoking original status as a station,” he concluded, adding that it is a restricted area and “even the committee members were harassed at the gate for 40 minutes”.

“We recommended that the illegal detention placed called Nalufenya should be immediately closed.”

Budadiri MP Nandala Mafabi demanded to know why the tortured mayor is being treated in a private hospital yet government has hospitals.

“What is government hiding? Nalufenya is a torture chamber that should be closed,” Mafabi put his voice to that of Katali.

MP Medard Ssegona said he found it disturbing that they are talking about a medical facility in Nalufenya that can be accessed by citizens.

The Leader of Opposition in Parliament, Winnie Kiiza, said when she went to Nalufenya, she was told by the guards at the gate that they don’t take orders from the Minister.

LOP Kizza informed MPs of a UPDF lieutenant who came to Parliament to report his torture but was picked up at Parliament steps.

“Who is in charge of Nalufenya, is it UPDF or police,” Kasilo County MP, Elijah Okupa, demanded to know.

Busongora North MP, William Nzoughu, concluded that when it comes to torture, the torture chambers are placed in the East and never in Ankole.

A parliament minority committee report then proposed that Nalufenya be closed immediately, the main common report proposes gazetting of Nalufenya.

Parliament thereafter adopted both the minority and main committee report regarding the torture allegations in Nalufenya.

“We condemn torture as a Parliament of Uganda,” Kadaga said, concluding the session.