Human Trafficking Fight Derailed by Premature Case Withdrawal

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In short
The national task force that was set up to coordinate government initiatives against human trafficking says it is facing a challenge of victims withdrawing cases.

The national task force that was set up to coordinate government initiatives against human trafficking says it is facing a challenge of victims withdrawing cases.

The taskforce which was set up in March this year told Parliament’s Committee on gender that victims withdraw cases before investigations are complete.

The chairperson of the task force Eunice Kisembo told the committee on Thursday that without the victims’ cooperation the investigations are frustrated. She said that the victims are usually bribed by the perpetrators and this has made it difficult to bring the perpetrators to book.

She asked parliament to help them sensitize the victims to know that they need to work with the authorities to eliminate this crime.

The committee, however, faulted the task force for failing to draft a follow up mechanism on the Ugandans who are trafficked abroad.

Opposition chief whip Winnie Kiiza said government has failed to put regulations guiding the agencies that take Ugandans abroad in the name of getting them jobs.

Kiiza, who is also Kasese Woman MP, says that there are many Ugandans abroad who were taken by the recruitment agencies that are not known in any of Uganda’s missions abroad.

She added that the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Affairs should put in place well-prescribed criteria to be followed by agencies such that they are made aware they have the responsibility to protect the people they recruit.

Kisembo pledged to ensure that government signs protection agreements with these agencies as a way of holding them responsible if anything happens to the people they take abroad.
 
The taskforce was set up following a parliamentary debate on a report which was released by the Foreign Affairs Committee of Parliament indicating that at least 104 people had fallen victim of human trafficking and sex slavery. Internal Affairs state minister James Baba then told Parliament of the 104 victims, 54 were intercepted at the border, 28 cases were under investigation while 11 were in court.
 
Just a week ago, government has returned five victims of human trafficking who had languishing in Manzini Correctional Centre in Swaziland. The victims include Henry Lutaaya, Dickens Mugisha, Bosco Nubaha, Moses Andida and Benon Ndorohegye.

The victims were picked up from Swaziland by Eunice Kisembo following negotiations between the government of Uganda and Swaziland. According to Kisembo, they received information about the human trafficking victims being held in Swaziland from other victims who were returned to Uganda from Zambia and Zimbabwe.

In March, three Members of Parliament who had travelled to Malaysia to investigate reports that Ugandans were being trafficked there said that at least 40 Ugandan women were languishing in jail in the East Asian country where they were arrested practicing prostitution.

Led by Sembabule Woman MP, Anifa Kawooya, the MPs said they found 19 girls in prison while 21 were being held in a holding centre awaiting deportation to Uganda.

The US annual Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report, released early this year estimates that 27 million people are trapped in different forms of modern slavery worldwide.

The report painted a grim picture of up to 600 Ugandan girls traveling to Malaysia and turning themselves into sex objects. The report among others revealed that the Ugandans have to part with some 400 dollars daily for their middlemen who connect them to their customers.

In June this year, Uganda Immigration officers received Counter Human Trafficking training from the European Union, aimed at empowering front line managers at the borders and passports processing sections with skills for victim and perpetrator identification and in law enforcement.