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Grappling With The Menace Of Human Trafficking

Tuesday, 17th December 2019

The vexing matter of human trafficking was the subject matter for consultations held between the High Commission in New Delhi and a high level task force composed of senior officials from three Ministries in Uganda. The team led by Mr Michael Karugaba, Head of Consular Department in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs met the diplomatic staff of the Uganda Mission in New Delhi on 16th December, 2019. With him was Police Commissioner who is the Co-ordinator for the Prevention of Human Trafficking in the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Mr Moses Binoga. Mr Musinguzi,a senior labour officer in  the department of employment services in the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development represented the Ministry which is charged with externalisation of labour in Uganda.

The team visited the major markets for Ugandan labour in the Middle East; namely Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Oman; as well as India in South Asia. It had three objectives namely: to carry out on-site assessment of the externalisation of labour in selected countries;to assess the problems of trafficking of Ugandans to selected countries; and to identify the challenges facing Missions in the face of externalisation of labour and human trafficking. The findings of the on-site assessments would go towards recommendations on appropriate measures and policies to address these issues.

At the meeting chaired by the Head of Mission in Delhi Mission, the team was apprised of the nature and magnitude of human trafficking in India and other countries of accreditation. The nature of human trafficking in these countries tended to be mostly, forced prostitution; although there were some cases also associated with drug trafficking. Forced prostitution involved Ugandan-based criminal gangs  and their accomplices in the host countries, which recruit young girls on the false promises of job opportunities in these countries.  Once recruited and brought to the countries, the girls were made stateless by confiscation of travel documents on arrival by their sponsors. Subsequently, they would be putout on the street to earn a stipulated sum of money for a given period of time.The implementation of this imperative would be supervised by  a network of pimps,most of them non-Ugandan, who would ensure that the girls got on the street. The trafficked girls were thus made to sell their bodies on a daily basis; until the stipulated sums of money were raised. Even then, there would be no guarantee that the girls would get back their travel documents.

The Mission shared its efforts to rescue and support Ugandan girls from this modern day slavery in New Delhi.  Working together with relevant departments in the Government of India, for example, the Mission had been able to penetrate the perpetrators of this trade in various cities in the country.The measures taken to apprehend these criminals resulted in the release of some of the trafficked girls. It also led to a clearer understanding of the nature and extent of the problem. As experienced by the New Delhi Mission, work to curb human trafficking, which in this case manifested in forced prostitution,needs to be jointly carried out between and among many departments of the host countries and Uganda.