State Research Bureau (organisation)

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State Research Bureau
Agency overview
Preceding agency
  • General Service Unit
TypeSecret police, intelligence agency
HeadquartersNakasero, Kampala
Agency executive
  • Amin Ibrahim Onzi, Director

The State Research Bureau (SRB), initially the State Research Centre (SRC), was a Ugandan intelligence agency. Active from 1971 until 1979, it served as a secret police organisation for President Idi Amin's regime. The SRB retained numerous agents and maintained a wide network of informants.


On 25 January 1971 Idi Amin, Commander of the Uganda Army, launched a coup in Uganda, overthrowing the government of President Milton Obote and seizing power. His advisers suggested that he try to differentiate himself from Obote by disbanding the General Service Unit (GSU), Obote's intelligence agency, which was highly unpopular within the general populace.[1]


In February 1971 Amin dissolved the GSU and through a decree established the State Research Centre. Major Amin Ibrahim Onzi was appointed director, and technical assistance was sought from Israel in its formation. Its responsibilities were to gather military intelligence and conduct counterintelligence. The headquarters was located in a building on Nakasero hill in Kampala, next to the State Lodge Annex. In early 1972 Amin ejected Israeli technicians from Uganda and changed the name of the organisation to the State Research Bureau (SRB). Agents from the Soviet Union were brought in to replace them, and they subsequently instructed SRB personnel in the methods of the KGB. Many were sent to the Soviet Union for specialised training.[1]

Even prostitutes can do some work — reporting the subversives.

—President Idi Amin[2]

Male SRB agents commonly wore dark sunglasses, Kaunda suits, and bell-bottoms. Attractive Rwandan Tutsi women were recruited as undercover operatives and stationed at airports, banks, hotels, restaurants, government offices, hospitals, and locations near Uganda's borders. Empowered by a sweeping February 1971 decree which gave state agents wide latitude to act, the SRB tortured and executed many suspected dissidents, provoking international outrage.[1] For its role in state repression and killings, the SRB came to be derisively known among the Ugandan population as the "State Research Butchery".[3] In June 1974, in response to criticism of his regime and specifically accusations of numerous "disappearances" of persons in Uganda, Amin established a commission of inquiry to investigate abuses of state authority. The commission concluded that the SRB and another state security agency, the Public Safety Unit, were responsible for most of the disappearances.[4]


  1. ^ a b c Mugabe, Faustin (18 December 2017). "Terror under Amin's notorious State Research Bureau". Daily Monitor. Retrieved 1 May 2019.
  2. ^ Seftel 2010, p. 155.
  3. ^ Mzirai 1980, p. 118.
  4. ^ Hayner 2010, p. 239.