Monday August 11 2014

We must work together to fight human trafficking

By Jacob Siminyu

I applaud the Daily Monitor for its tireless efforts in bringing to light pervasive social problems such as human trafficking. The Daily Monitor’s editorial of July 15, reiterated that, “ The Directorate of Citizenship and Immigration Control, besides the Prevention of Trafficking in Persons Task force, should design measures to stop recruitment, transportation, transfer, receipt hire and trade in persons”

I would like to clarify that the Directorate of Citizenship and Immigration Control (DCIC) is a member of the national task force to combat trafficking in persons and works closely with other government and non-governmental agencies in their collaborative efforts to fight against trafficking in persons. The recent increase in reports of human trafficking cases published by the Coordination Office to Combat Trafficking in Persons (COCTIP) are mainly due to the heightened vigilance and referrals from immigration officials who have been trained in interviewing, identification, rescue and protection of victims of trafficking.

The DCIC’s anti-human trafficking efforts have been acknowledged by the coordination office to combat trafficking in persons in its 2013 annual report published in February 2014. Apart from being an active participant in public awareness campaigns (including media briefings and talk shows, meetings and public addresses); the report applauds the officials of the DCIC for the control of the outflow of potential victims of transnational trafficking in persons.

During the year under review, a total of 423 Ugandan travellers were affected. These travellers were counselled about the dangers of trafficking in persons and educated about safe and humane ways of migrating. Some of those people who were stopped from exiting confessed to have been potential victims of human trafficking or smuggling and upon counselling, decided not to proceed with their journeys as had been planned.

To maintain this vigilance, the DCIC has since established a working group to deal with Trafficking in Persons (TIP) issues; a senior officer to serve as the DCIC Focal Officer on TIP has also been designated. The senior officer also serves as the deputy coordinator of the national task force to enhance coordination.

Trafficking in Persons remains a key subject in all our training programmes where among other things, immigration officers are trained on the provisions of the Prevention of Trafficking in Persons Act 2009, human trafficking preventive measures, victim identification and protection, and investigation of trafficking issues.

We at the DCIC appreciate the concerns of the Daily Monitor and encourage that you continue with efforts to work closely work with the stakeholders like the DCIC, Uganda Folice Force, the national task force, the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Community Development, the citizens of Uganda, etc to put Trafficking in Persons issues on the forefront and ensure continuous awareness of Ugandans on this vice.

All in all, fighting trafficking in persons, both internal and external as manifested in Uganda, should not be seen as a preserve of the DCIC, but it should be a combined effort of all people in Uganda: government agencies, the media, international community and the public alike.

We must all show concern and act to stop this recent form of slavery. The government needs to play its part, like it has done in the last few years. The media needs to create the much needed awareness in the households. Relatives and friends need to interest themselves in all media reports about trafficking in persons and talk about them in their households to our young people who think their future lies somewhere outside Uganda. It is time for all of us to stand up and fight against trafficking of our most important resource, young and energetic people.

Mr Siminyu is the public relations officer of the Directorate of Citizenship and Immigration Control, Ministry of Internal Affairs