Monday July 7 2014

Blaming govt, police will not deter drug and human trafficking

By Emilian Kayima

Last week came with the sad news of the two Ugandans who were executed in China for drug trafficking. The reports indicated that Mr Omar Ddamulira was executed on May 21, while Ham Andrew Ngobi was executed on June 24, two days away from June 26, the International Day against Drug abuse and Illicit Trafficking. We empathise with family and friends. The reason we have these feelings is because these could have been trafficked as well and used by drug cartels as carriers without their knowledge and consent. There are many more languishing in prisons across the globe serving sentences for related crimes.

What surely surprised me and was bordering on annoying me is the cosmetic way some sections of politicians started asking why government did not provide lawyers, questioning why drugs are trafficked through Uganda and the pretence that they are grieving with the families that lost their loved ones.

Media reports attributed these comments to the Buganda Caucus in Parliament; “We strongly feel that the Anti-Narcotics Police should be investigated with a view of knowing their role in this illicit trade”.

How can they say that without shame? Is this the best our Parliament can offer amidst the challenges we are interfaced with in this fight? What is important is taking pro-active steps to understand the problem and then address it, appropriately.
Our Members of Parliament should not demand for what is obvious. Uganda is a conduit because of very lenient laws that simply encourage drug trafficking. How can a drug trafficker be fined Shs1 million on conviction when s/he is dealing in a lucrative satanic business of billions of dollars and you think that it is deterrent enough?
Let us face the ugly facts; the Anti Narcotic and Psychotropic Bill 2005 continues to gather dust on the shelves of Parliament. And drug traffickers continue to have their field days as they thrive in an environment that allows their illicit dealings to thrive!

Police continues to battle the traffickers with minimal success because of the obvious facts that allow them to escape easily.
To address the problem, we must tackle it from its roots; unemployment is a huge challenge and one of the major push factors. Poor policies or no policy at all as far as labour export, safeguards for those working abroad, provision of legal services to those who need it and repatriation measures for those in question are also lacking.

But the lack of a tougher and deterrent piece of legislation on drug trafficking and trafficking in human persons escalates the problem. How about lack of moral education and cherishing the moral values that must define us all?

Drug and human trafficking is bigger than just the act. Those who engage in this illicit trade make loads of illegal and dirty proceeds and to divert the forces that hunt them down, they often sponsor wars and terrorism. This is the sole reason we must stop fixing the problem on the surface but holistically address the monster.

The breaking of the sad news of the executions of our two Ugandans colleagues coincided with the Pan African Youth Conference in Kigali with the theme; “Beyond liberation movements; shaping our future”. In this conference Rwandan president Paul Kagame asked the youth to take charge. “There is only one way forward. Be inferior to no one. Do not accept mediocrity. Always speak the truth, no matter who is unsettled. But also, take charge. Stand, and deliver. Do the work. Do it now.”
Mr Kayima is a police officer working with Land Protection Police Unit.