What you need to know:
It should be noted that human trafficking is not a cheap venture as facilitators of this vice are highly connected and financially sounding
On July 30, the world commemorated the day against trafficking in persons.
Human trafficking is the trade of humans for the purpose of forced labour, sexual slavery, or commercial sexual exploitation for the trafficker or others.
This may encompass providing a spouse in the context of forced marriage, or the extraction of organs or tissues, including for surrogacy and ova removal.
This year’s theme focuses on the role of technology as a tool that can both enable and impede human trafficking.
With the global increase in the use of technology - intensified by the Covid-19 pandemic and the shift of everyday life to online platforms -- the crime of human trafficking has conquered cyber space.
The internet and digital platforms offer traffickers numerous tools to recruit, transport, exploit, and control victims.
In Uganda, trafficking in persons is very common. In some regions such as Karamoja, children are trafficked to Mbale, Jinja, Kampala and other urban centres for different reasons like child labour, street begging and child sacrifice among others.
However, with the use of technology also lies great opportunity. Future success in eradicating human trafficking will depend on how law enforcement, the criminal justice systems and others can leverage technology in their responses.
This will include aiding investigations to shed light on the modus operandi of trafficking networks; enhancing prosecutions through digital evidence to alleviate the situation of victims in criminal proceedings; and providing support services to survivors.
Prevention and awareness-raising activities on the safe use of the internet and social media could help mitigate the risk of people falling victim to trafficking online.
On the other hand, cooperation with the private sector is important to harness innovation and expertise for the development of sustainable, technology-based solutions to support the prevention and combatting of human trafficking.
According to Ms Agnes Igoye, the deputy chairperson of National Prevention of Trafficking in person at Ministry of International affairs, between January and June 30 this year, more than 1,000 cases of human trafficking were registered.
Of these, 1044 suspects have been produced in different courts of law and 125 persons convicted.
However, this represents 11 percent, which is a small figure. So many factors come into play when it comes to litigation and these factors largely frustrate the prosecution.
It is reported that often witnesses shy away from going to courts, investigators are largely facilitated fully to pick up necessary information, exhibits, carry out research, prosecutors are compromised.
It should be noted that human trafficking is not a cheap venture as facilitators of this vice are highly connected and financially sounding. They are capable of frustrating litigation at any cost.
However, there are major players in fighting and stopping human trafficking and these include local leaders, airlines, security agencies, judiciary, clearing agents, ticketing companies, parents, labour export companies, and immigration agencies among others.
For instance, local leaders before issuing identification documents should tick boxes of the requestors’ intentions. Similarly, security agencies especially at border points must be keen enough on first time travellers especially if they are young adults. This is because most times the person being trafficked has no idea that they are being trafficked. Some are threatened, coerced, forced, bribed, or lied too. It’s possible to save someone at this point of exit.
Also, religious leaders can crusade against this problem. They can make it part of your preaching all the time.
On its part, government needs to invest resources in fighting human trafficking especially through awareness. It is evident that civil society organisations are trying their best but they need a lot of support.
For example, the International Migration Organization (IOM) has been conducting seminars and workshops for aviation players on trafficking, this is a good step. Such training should be extended to local leaders especially in the areas marked red as far as trafficking of persons is concerned.
Government should also fully support the labour export sector. The level of unemployment in this country is high but luckily there is demand for the same labour elsewhere. Any mindful thinking government officer should never think of suspending, slowing or stopping labour migration but streamlining the trade.
Finally, each of us are potential human trafficking promoters. However, we can fight it through possible simple ways like critical observations, asking the right questions, reporting any suspected traffickers and helping the victims.
Safety and security consultant