KAMPALA – Ugandans have been urged to report suspected cases of trafficking in persons (TiP), as one of the ways to control the vice.
The call was made on Friday 30, during an E-Conference to mark World Day Against Trafficking in Persons (WDAT).
The televised E-Conference was supported by the Better Migration Management (BMM) programme, which is funded by the European Union Trust Fund for Africa and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development.
BMM is implemented by the International Organization for Migration (IOM), together with the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), UNODC, CIVPOL and the British Council.
The theme for WDAT 2021 was “Victims’ Voices Lead the Way”, and the E-Conference, discussed implementation of the National Referral Guidelines (NRG) for Management of Victims of Trafficking. The BMM programme supported the National TiP Taskforce to harmonize the sensitization guide for TiP in Uganda in 2019 and develop the NRG in 2020.
The head of IOM Uganda’s Migrant Protection and Assistance unit, Ms Joycelyn Karungi, said in ten years, at least nine million people across the world had been trafficked. Globally, TiP is estimated to be worth USD 32 billion annually.
Ms Agnes Igoye, the deputy head of the Coordination Office for Prevention of Trafficking in Persons (COPTIP) at the Ministry of Internal Affairs, explained that traffickers often lure unsuspecting people into seemingly lucrative jobs within and outside Uganda, which often turns into exploitative forced labour or even sex trafficking. In Uganda, Igoye said, at least 175 cases of trafficking were registered between January and June this year, including for child marriages.
For her part, Karungi encouraged Ugandans to report cases of suspected trafficking from wherever they are.
People could report to COPTIP in Kampala, but also to Probation offices, community development offices, and the Police in their respective locations for further follow-ups.
“I am encouraging reporting of any suspected TIP cases because the data that we have is just a small number…. that means for those people whose reports have not been captured, their fraction is bigger than what we have.”
Igoye added her voice saying: “Please, let us report the cases”.
She cited a recent case of workers whose passports were being withheld by their bosses; when her office intervened, the documents were released.
“When you report, it helps us to track those cases.”
Igoye also appealed to intending migrant workers to use the right channels: “Let us seek better ways of labour migration; there are recruitment agencies licensed by the government, let us use them. Let us not go out in secrecy. When you use a recruitment agency which is licensed, we know where to start in case there is a challenge.”
Ms Jacquelyn Okui, a spokeswoman for the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP), highlighted some of the challenges ODPP faces in prosecuting cases of trafficking, including: the high cost of prosecuting transnational cases, limited capacity of prosecutors, failure of victims to cooperate with prosecution, and lack of bilateral agreements with some of the countries to which Ugandans are trafficked.
The Conference also heard from Dr Annette Twahirwa Kirabira, the Chair advisory board of the Uganda Coalition Against Trafficking in Uganda (UCATIP). She hailed the work of ODPP and COPTIP but urged the government and other stakeholders to step up their efforts on resourcing, investigation and prosecution.
“We need to deal with the systemic issues because some of the challenges talked about are even to do with reintegration…. We must fight corruption that is in the system, denying victims justice; issues that make the victims not to trust the system.”
IOM has been a longstanding partner on prevention of trafficking in persons. Last year, with funds from the BMM, IOM supported the development of the National Action Plan (NAP) for Preventing Trafficking in Persons, as well as the National Referral Guidelines to strengthen a coordinated and structured approach to assisting victims. IOM is currently supporting the dissemination of the NRGs at both national and sub-national levels
BMM is a regional, multi-year, multi-partner programme coordinated by GIZ. It supports national authorities and institutions to facilitate safe, orderly and regular migration, and reduce trafficking in persons and smuggling of migrants within and from the Horn of Africa region.