By Stephen Wandera firstname.lastname@example.org
KAMPALA. Uganda Law Society (ULS) has condemned Internal Security Organization (ISO) raid on MTN Uganda data center and arbitrary arrests
“ULS has noted with concern a statement from MTN Uganda Limited dated 9th July 2018 detailing the kidnap of two staff working with its contractor; Huawei. The kidnapped staffs were further forced to provide unlawful access to the MTN data center in Mutundwe. The statement mentioned that the men who executed this illegal assignment were “heavily armed,” reads the statement by, Mr Simon Peter Kinobe, the president ULS.
In an email to The Uganda Vanguard on Friday July 13th July, 2018, ULS also noted with concern statements made by the Col. Kaka Bagyenda, the director general, Internal Security Organization (ISO) confirming the unfortunate attack on the MTN data center carried out by ISO operatives.
“It is very chilling to hear the Director General of ISO proudly associating himself with such illegalities in a press conference. The need for any government agency to gain access to any property or information from the public using “heavily armed men” is uncalled for, considering that the same could have been accessed lawfully,” Mr Kinobe said.
He further explained, “The era of accessing information at gun point is long past. The NRM government has prided itself on its ability to ensure that security agencies do not misuse the gun or turn the gun against people. Accessing the MTN data center with no court order but instead using guns is most unacceptable. Remembering our history, ISO should avoid the behavior and conduct of the former State Research Bureau.”
The lawyers also condemned the continued illegal detention of Mr. Birungi Simpson, the director, Movit Products Ltd by ISO contrary to court orders.
Mr Kinobe said, the fact that ISO seemingly operates above the law, the constitution and the courts is a deeply worrying trend that needs to be resolved quickly.
“At a press conference dated 9th July 2018, the DG ISO Col Frank Bagyenda “paraded” some ‘suspects’ who confessed to working with Dr. Kizza Besigye and Gen Kale Kayihura to cause unrest in the city. ULS has long opposed the practice of parading suspects because the exercise is of no legal value and erodes the presumption of innocence.
ULS guides that under 5.4 (2) of the Security Organisations Act, ISO has no legal mandate to arrest and detain any person. The power to arrest and detain is a preserve of the Police Force and in some instances, the military through CMI, which can arrest and detain people who are subject to Military Law. ISO is neither a department of the Army nor a unit of the police.”
Any person arrested can only be detained in a gazetted detention facility and suspect must within forty-eight hours be transferred to the jurisdiction of the criminal court to be charged, or released.
“Under S.11 of the Security Organisations Act, it is a crime for an employee of ISO, including the Director General to “detain or confine any person” and thus, the behavior .of arrest and detention by ISO operatives is not only illegal but amounts to “behavior prejudicial to a security organization” and attracts a prison term of ten years.
ISO should not act with impunity and should be accountable to the people,” he warned.