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Human trafficking


Human trafficking is a global phenomenon, affecting every region in the world, including Uganda. Uganda is a source and destination country for mostly women, youth and children subjected to forced labour and sex trafficking. Children are exploited in forced labour within the country in agriculture, herding, hawking, car washing, bars and restaurants, street begging, and are exploited into prostitution. During the reporting period of the US Department of States (report released in June 2012) Ugandan trafficking victims were reported in the UK, Denmark, Iraq, South Sudan, Kenya, China, Thailand, and Malaysia. In addition, Uganda’s INTERPOL office reported Ugandan women trafficked to India, Egypt, Afghanistan, Indonesia, and the United Arab Emirates. The report highlighted the forced prostitution of Ugandan women in Malaysia after being recruited for work as hair dressers, nannies, and hotel staff; some of the women transit through China and Thailand – where they may also encounter forced prostitution – and route to Malaysia. As a result of the trafficking experience, victims exhibit signs of physical, sexual and psychological trauma and difficulties in reintegration once they escape the trafficking situation.

Factors, including conflicts, displacement, poverty at household level, lack of employment opportunities and personal aspirations for a better life are some of the factors that contribute to human trafficking in Uganda. However victims are deceived by business men, women/madams, retired prostitutes, relatives, peers, religious acquaintances and agents with promises of money, jobs, education and professional training only to end up in exploitative situations.

A study by the Refugee Documentation Centre of Ireland in 2010 revealed that Uganda still falls short of its international obligation to protect her citizens against sexual offences and human trafficking, despite the state’s efforts to combat this on the legislative front. The police and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs do not have exact figures of Ugandans that have been trafficked out of the country and are being held in servitude in foreign countries. (New Vision 05/08/12)

The Ugandan government does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making efforts to do so. In February this year, the internal affairs ministry designated the prevention of Trafficking in Persons (TIP) office. Two months later in April, the National Task Force and Steering and Policy Committees were inaugurated. The government has started to set up a three-tier governmental structure to address TIP issues and implement the Prevention of Trafficking In Persons Act of 2009 (PTIP Act) (New Vision 12/07/12). During the year, the CTIP office required task force members to submit reports on actions to combat trafficking by their respective agencies and began consultations necessary for drafting a national action plan. The government also conducted anti-trafficking educational campaigns through radio programs and community discussions during the year. The External Labour Unit (ELU) – with just one staff member – provided pre-departure seminars for 400 Ugandans leaving for work abroad, supplied sample contracts to recruitment agencies, and provided phone numbers for Ugandans to call should they need assistance while abroad. However, the government’s oversight of overseas recruitment agencies remains inadequate and under-resourced.