KAMPALA – The Speaker of Parliament, Ms. Rebecca Kadaga, has urged government to implement international conventions on human trafficking.
While opening the consultative workshop on the Anti-Slavery Bill 2018 at the Gold Tulip Hotel in Kampala on Wednesday, Ms Kadaga said it is time government began started domesticating International Conversions on human trafficking since the vices are now affecting Uganda.
“As a country, we have to be more awake. We haven’t domesticated international conventions. I don’t know how many we have shelved. We go and sign such flourish conventions and come and put them in shelves. I think we are failing this country by not domesticating the conventions especially the ones of the UN (United Nations),” she said.
She said Parliament has for long demanded that export of labour must be bilateral (between governments) — as opposed to being done by private companies.
“Unfortunately, this has not been strictly adhered to. And the most annoying thing is that a number of ministers operate labour export companies,” she said.
The Speaker also said today’s slave trade is more subtle with main Ugandans being trafficked out of the country through illegal routes across the border.
“That aside, there is also a growing problem of internal slavery. I recounted to the audience how I rescued five girls from captivity in Nakawa, Kampala, in the recent past. They had been trafficked from Ngora District. Neighbours were oblivious of what was going on. For these and other reasons, I tasked individual MPs to come up with a private member’s Bill that will criminalise human trafficking and modern slavery. The Bill is due for the first reading in mid or late June,” she said.
Ms Kadaga also castigated Ugandans who are victims of human trafficking in the Middle East countries for not working with government missions there to report such practices.
She said that during a meeting with some of the Ugandans working in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates last year, her findings were that most of them do not want to associate with the nearest missions where they can easily call for help when subjected to aspects of slavery like torture.
“They were not interested in identifying with Uganda’s nearest missions. These Ugandans don’t know that through their passports, the President is requesting for their safe passage wherever they go. It is written in the passports. But, there is a need to find solutions to the problem of grabbing their passports by employers,” Ms Kadaga said.
The Speaker also said that some ministries have an interest in the External Labour Recruitment Agencies which makes it difficult for them to supervise the activities they are involved in while exporting labour.
The Anti-Slavery Bill 2018, which was drafted by Soroti Municipality Member of Parliament Herbert Ariko under a private member’s Bill, seeks to come up with stringent measures towards curbing modern-day slavery.
The workshop was attended by, among others, Prof. Parosha Chandran from Kings College, London, Ms Tosin Jegede from the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, UK Houses of Parliament; and Ms Adeline Dumjoun from the House of Parliament in the United Kingdom.
Prof Chandran, who is also the Legal Advisor to the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association in the United Kingdom, said most people affected by slavery are those who aspire to acquire wealth from elsewhere due to poverty and lack of opportunities hence a need for governments in African to find solutions to the prevailing problems.