Representatives from more than 25 local and international civil society organizations attended the conference, which allowed for discussion around their individual and collective roles in addressing human trafficking.
Human trafficking in Uganda is systemic and far-reaching. Hundreds of children, primarily from the post-conflict districts in the north, have been trafficked in recent years. Adult and child victims alike are recruited, abducted or sold into situations of forced labor as either manual laborers, domestic workers, sex workers, or as street beggars whose money are extorted from them. In February 2012, revelations of widespread trafficking of Ugandans abroad—and in particular to Malaysia, where victims are lured by the false promise of good jobs—brought into focus the woeful lack of enforcement of the country’s Prevention of Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Act, which, since its enactment in 2009, has only resulted in one conviction and 29 investigations.
Thanks to media coverage of both human trafficking in Uganda and insufficient implementation of the law, combating trafficking in persons is at a critical juncture. The crime and its consequences are being heavily debated in the public domain, with the press having played a vital role in advancing public awareness. The government’s anti-human trafficking Task Force, the creation of which was mandated by the Prevention of TIP Act, is charged with developing operating procedures and designing policies to address human trafficking.
To offer additional input to the Task Force, on March 22, the ABA Rule of Law Initiative’s (ABA ROLI’s) Uganda program held its first workshop for anti-human trafficking non-governmental stakeholders. Representatives from more than 25 local and international civil society organizations (CSOs) attended the Kampala event, which allowed for discussion around their individual and collective roles in addressing human trafficking as well as for the proposal of unified protocols to recommend to the Task Force for effective collaboration between governmental and civil society stakeholders. After the event the CSOs formed a listserv to fortify their relationships and to provide unified support to the government’s newly established anti-human trafficking Task Force.
In this context, ABA ROLI is working with government officials and civil society organizations to support the development of a more coordinated approach to the investigation and prosecution of human trafficking cases as well as in the provision of victim support services.
To learn more about our work in Uganda, contact the ABA Rule of Law Initiative at [email protected].