Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga has proposed that labour exportation should be conducted by government as opposed to private companies, if Uganda is to mitigate the rising cases of human trafficking.
“One of the things we have demanded from government is that if there must be export of labour, it should be government to government,” Said Kadaga adding, “We need to know where our people are going, we need to know what they are doing, we need to know what their terms of employment are.”
Kadaga made these remarks while opening a workshop on “modern slavery” at Golden Tulip Hotel on Wednesday. The workshop was an engagement of different stakeholders to inform the proposed Anti-Slavery Bill (2018).
Kadaga said it was unfortunate that most Ugandans who have been enslaved in foreign countries are not registered at Uganda’s foreign missions, and that this has made it hard for government to help them.
She recounted a recent experience where she asked Ugandans to register with the Uganda Embassy in Dubai but all shied away.
“They don’t want to associate with the government. So how do I know how to rescue you if you don’t want to register with the Ugandan mission? You can’t even budget for them. But we are trying to allocate some money to that cause” Kadaga said
The speaker called on the public to be more vigilant on cases of human trafficking, saying they have become rampant even within the country. She recalled an incident last year when she rescued 5 children kept in a house for 3 months in Nakawa Division, because of alerts from the local council.
“These children were trafficked from Ngora. Their rescue was possible because the chairperson was vigilant, he was curious about movement of food in and out of a certain house in his village”
Kadaga said she was however displeased with government officials who own labour export companies, saying it might compromise regulation of human trafficking; a battle she said Parliament has fought for almost 20 years in vain.
“It is annoying that a number of ministers in this government own labour export companies, so you cannot expect them to supervise a sector where they have an interest” Said Kadaga
The Mover of the Anti-Slavery Bill, 2018, Hon Herbert Edmund Ariko (FDC, Soroti Municipality) highlighted the hotspots of human trafficking within the country.
“Karamoja is becoming a key source of either trafficked or enslaved people, Soroti is becoming more of a holding place and a transit centre, so as Mbale, Tororo, Busia districts”
He noted that whereas government needs to step up the fight against human trafficking, regulation of other forms of slavery such as forced labour, servitude and forced commercial sexual exploitation should be on top of government’s agenda.
The Anti-Slavery Bill 2018, seeks to repeal the Prevention of Trafficking in Persons Act, 2009 and make provision for the prohibition of slavery, servitude and forced or compulsory labour, commercial sexual exploitation, Debt bondage, Human organ trafficking as well as provide for the repatriation and compensation of victims of the offenses under this Act.