The eerie opening of
the check point by security officers at Lwamayuba Island in Bufumira Sub County
in Kalangala district welcomes new entrants to the security installation by the
Internal Security Organization-ISO.
Moments after, security operatives and
people dressed in orange overalls are called to pull the boat to the main land
as food, plates, cups and beddings are offloaded.
At this point, no civilian is allowed to go past the check point as security officers
discuss what to do.
One of the officers only identified as Nasser is asked to
brief the civilians on what to do when at the security installation. Among the
regulations is that no one is allowed to take photographs on the island.
Lwamayuba Island, which
was previously a fishing hub, is now deserted by the locals. It also used to
act as a temporary breeding area for cage fish farmers.
It borders Buyovu
Island in the South East, Bufumira in the South, Kitobo in the north and Ziiru
Island in the East.
The island was home close to 700 people about four
years ago before it was closed by the Uganda People’s Defense Forces fisheries
protection unit in August 2018.
But only a handful of people
including the elderly are residents on the landing sites.
However, none of the
residents are allowed to wonder around or fish on the 52 acre Island, which is
about 26 nautical miles away from Kasenyi landing site.
The island is now home
to ISO operatives and detainees. Last week, parliament asked the Human Rights
Committee of Parliament to investigate rights violation in a safe house on Lwamayuba
Island and Kyengera.
It came after Latif
Ssebagala, the Kawempe North Member of Parliament and his Arua municipality
counterpart, Kasiano Wadri complained about torture in the two safe houses.
Security Minister, Gen. Elly Tumwine is expected to present a detailed
statement to the house about the alleged torture in the two safe houses.
However, in a brief statement issued last week, Tumwine
said the two are rehabilitation centers and not torture chambers as claimed.
to our reporter, the island hosts more than 30 operatives from the Internal
Security Organization and more than 60 suspected criminals who dress in the orange
The suspects are
involved in different activities including digging, cooking, fetching water and
the construction of new facilities.
There are five large tents on the island, which
are reportedly used for interrogation, according to one of the suspects.
Ronald Ssemagulu, a trader on Bukasa Island,
which is close to Lwamayuba, says it is now risky to dock on to the island without
prior communication with the area chairperson, Musa Kizito.
//Cue in: “Kati olwokuba twatambudde …
Cue out: … ekinaala kikomyeewo kigibawe.”//
During day, a medical
team from Bufumira Sub County delivers medicine to the island and also examines
the new detainees.
“When we reached this
place, we were guided by security personnel at a check point and were
prohibited from taking any photograph. New facilities have been constructed and
there is increased security. We only go there to carry out testing and
counseling activities on the officers there,” a health worker told our reporter
on condition of anonymity.
Occasionally, suspects can be heard crying from the
island. Musa Mukasa, one of the
officers at Lwamayuba island disputes claims of torture.
He says the island has
been turned into a rehabilitation center where all those arrested in the
Kampala and Wakiso murders and other capital offenses are rehabilitated from.