Clerics launch campaign against human trafficking

Intercepted. Victims of human trafficking who were intercepted by State House officials during an operation in Najjanankumbi in Kampala on August 22. PHOTO BY MICHAEL KAKUMIRIZI

What you need to know:

  • Duped. The Bishop of Fort Portal Diocese, Dr Robert Muhiirwa, says traffickers promise formal jobs only to force unsuspecting victims to become maids and prostitutes.

The Association of the Religious in Uganda (ARU), Fort Portal Diocese in partnership with Africa Faith and Justice Network Uganda (AFJN) have kicked off a campaign to curb human trafficking.

The Executive Director of AFJN, Rev Fr Okure Aniedi, during a three-day advocacy training of religious leaders at St Joseph’s Inn Virika, said human trafficking is rampant in African countries due to poverty and unemployment.

He said slave trade is manifesting itself in form of human trafficking where some Africans are duped and taken to Arab countries to work under harsh conditions.
The Bishop of Fort Portal Diocese, Dr Robert Muhiirwa, said traffickers promise formal jobs only to force unsuspecting victims to become maids and prostitutes on arrival.

“We are aware of some cases reported about those who have been killed, tortured and those that are sexually abused from the Arab countries when they are taken to work as housemaids, among other jobs. There are also cases of slavery reported by those people who go abroad for odd jobs (kyeyo),” Bishop Muhiirwa said.

The Daughters of St Thereza coordinator of ARU in Fort Portal, Rev Sr Margaret Kabanywezi, said: “We need to do something as religious leaders and other stakeholders to ensure that human trafficking is no more because our daughters and sons are being killed and enslaved.”

ARU in partnership with AFJN members have petitioned government officials in Kabarole District who include: the Resident District Commissioner, the regional police commander, the district internal security officer and district community development office to join hands in combating human trafficking in Uganda.

The ARU officials have also asked government to collaborate with them and form anti-human trafficking taskforce within the region to sensitise the community about the dangers of illegal migration.

“Provide social support to victims of human trafficking by setting up rehabilitation centres in the area to attend to the physical and mental health of the trafficked victims and their transition into community,” reads part of the petition.

The association has also asked government to work together with the appropriate agencies to ensure that the legal rights of those recruited for work abroad are not violated.
“We recall again words of Pope Francis that human trafficking is modern slavery and a crime against humanity,” reads part of the petition.

Human trafficking. The 2013 annual report on trafficking in Uganda that was released by the ministry of Internal Affairs in 2014 indicates that Uganda continued to serve mainly as a source and destination point for victims of trafficking in persons, at the internal and transnational levels.
The report shows a total of 837 victims of trafficking (including suspected victims) were registered for the year 2013, out of which 429 were victims of transnational trafficking while 408 were trafficked internally.

The report further stated that Uganda was a destination for a total of 20 registered victims from six foreign countries of Madagascar, Somalia, Rwanda, Burundi, South Sudan and Tanzania.
It was also a transit country for eight suspected transnational victims from Ethiopia on the way to South Africa.