Uganda a hub of human trafficking, report shows
Uganda remains a hub of human trafficking despite having made a number of strides towards fighting the global scourge, the US State Department said this week.
The US annual Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report, released on Tuesday by US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, estimates that 27 million people are trapped in different forms of modern slavery worldwide.
“Traffickers prey on the hopes and dreams of those seeking a better life, and our goal should be to put those hopes and dreams back within reach,” Ms Clinton said at the launch of the report in Washington.
Human trafficking is widespread in Uganda; the report highlights everything from the lasting domestic trafficking of Karamoja children into forced labour to the increasing number of Uganda women being coerced into sexual slavery abroad.
Yet Uganda is miles ahead of many other “Tier 2” countries – which the report defines as not fully complying with minimum standards, but “making significant efforts to do so”.
For one, it enacted TIP legislation in 2009, which puts in place a framework for the prosecution of offenders, protection of victims, and preventative measures.
It has also opened a responsible office within the Ministry of Internal Affairs, as well as an anti-human trafficking taskforce, which was inaugurated in April.
But an action plan is yet to be rolled out, and the State Department report indicates the Ugandan government’s effort is yet to see any tangible results.
Although officials identified five trafficking cases in the past year, and prosecuted three, it is yet to convict anyone under its trafficking legislation – or fully fund an intervention with an impact.
Activists and officials agree that informing the public on a widespread scale is a major and missing component of Uganda’s underfunded plan.
Meanwhile, the police unit going after traffickers on the ground is limited and often isolated. Mr Umar Mutuya, deputy Special Investigation Unit commandant and officer in-charge of its trafficking desk says they are currently handling 35 cases – with two officers.
By Philippa Croome, Daily Monitor
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