KAMPALA – The outspoken Mukono Municipality Member of Parliament, Betty Nambooze, has revealed details on how 23 female youths who were returned from Jordan had been sold to the highest bidders in dollars ‘into modern day slavery’.
The opposition figure Nambooze also confirmed that the youth arrived in the country on Friday this week aboard Air Dubai but raised concern over their healthy.
She said relatives of the returnees broke down in tears when they saw the current state their daughters were in, as some of the girls were taken off the plane in wheelchairs with broken limbs and faces filled with scars and bruises.
The affected youths were reportedly hired and sent to Jordan by Marphie International Recruitment Agency Company, which operates in Kigowa in Ntinda, a Kampala suburb.
According to Nambooze, she learnt of the dilemma from Doreen Magezi, one of the victims from Namanve in Mukono who contacted her seeking her intervention to return home.
In one of her Facebook posts, Nambooze notes that Maphie Agents sold the youths to the highest bidders in dollars before they were handed over to families that have been treating them as sub- human.
Nambooze further claims that when they begged for their return, the youths were told to pay US3000 dollars for their freedom prompting her to raise the matter with Speaker of Parliament.
Ruth Tukahiirwa Karungi, the Director of Maphie International Recruitment Agency denies allegations of trafficking and selling Ugandans to Arabic countries.
She has tasked Nambooze to produce evidence to substantiate her claims, saying they are always approached by poor girls for job placements.
“After the president signing a working pact with these Arabic countries we have been taking there both male and female youths who now have good and well-paying jobs. I wonder why one would claim that we sell them off. They are free to say whatever they want but the mighty lord is watching if I am telling lies it will return to me,” Karungi said.
Nambooze said she has not intentions of fighting agencies that are struggling to bridge the employment gap in the country but there should be standard procedures that the companies should follow to connect people to foreign countries.
She says that she has directed her legal team to take legal action on the matter as she pursues the matter through parliament.
The Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga recently 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.
Kadaga noted that it is unfortunate that most Ugandans who have been victims slavery in foreign countries are not registered at Uganda’s foreign missions, and that this has made it hard for government to rescue victims.
She recounted a recent experience in Dubai 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
Kadaga 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.
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.
Meanwhile, Uganda and United Arab Emirates last week signed a Memorandum of Understanding, (MoU) with the aim of reinforcing their cooperation in adopting best labour practices.
The MoU was signed by Nasser bin Thani Al Hamli, Minister of Human Resources and Emiratisation, and Jannat Mukwaya, Minister of Labour and Social Affairs of Uganda, in the Ugandan capital, Kampala, with the attendance of Dr. Omar Al Nuaimi, Assistant Under-Secretary at the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation for Communication and International Relations Affairs, and several officials from both sides.
The agreement also limits the recruitment activities of registered recruitment offices in the UAE and Uganda.
Mr. Al Hamli said that the MoU reflects the keenness of the two countries to develop their partnership and cooperate in adopting the best practices in regulating the contractual work of Ugandan employees in the UAE.
He also highlighted the role of the agreement in regulating private recruitment offices in both countries, to ensure transparency and compliance.
Both sides agreed that the recruitment process shall be subject to specific procedures, which will require employers in the UAE to provide Ugandan employees with a detailed work offer containing a complete description of the rights and duties of both parties and the terms and conditions of work.
The relevant Ugandan government authority must ensure that workers read and accept the offer before signing.