By Edward Anyoli
KAMPALA - Human trafficking is still a big problem in the east African region, a senior EAC peace and security officer says.
Didacus Kaguta explained that the vice is still a challenge because the current law on human trafficking is not stringent enough to deter offenders.
“There are weak laws in place and courts do not give stringent terms of deterrent sentences to the offenders,” he said while addressing East African Community heads of anti-human trafficking at Imperial Royal Hotel on Monday.
More than 100,000 people were smuggled out of eastern Africa in 2012, he revealed.
According to the US State department report of June 2013, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi are on the watch-list countries that could eventually face US sanctions for failure to combat human trafficking.
Kaguta believes that human trafficking is a unique criminal act that requires multi-sectoral action and that managing it effectively can best be achieved through the application of prosecution, protection, prevention and partnership with EAC region.
The security officer told the participants that women in the region have become experts in human trafficking especially for sexual exploitation in reward for huge sums of money.
He said in another form of trafficking, children are taken into captivity and trained as terrorists.
Senior EAC peace and security officer Didacus Kaguta says the vice is still a major challenge. PHOTO/Lillia Babirya
Interpol reports indicate that Ugandan women are trafficked to India, Afghanistan, Indonesia and the United Arab Emirates as sex slaves.
To effectively curb the increasing cases of sexual exploitation among young girls in the region, Kaguta suggests, Tanzania and Kenya need to put up strong measures in the coastal areas.
He highlighted trafficking for human body parts, saying that victims are targeted for their vital organs for transplant and flown to countries like South Africa and India.
Albinos are the major targets because of a conventional belief that they are a source of wealth.
John Kariuki, officer-in-charge of the Serious Crimes department at the CID headquarters in Nairobi said issues of governance, poverty and porous borders continue to downplay interventions in countering crime in the region.
“Fighting crime in the region is every one’s job and should transcend beyond law enforcement. Strengthening and educating institutions like the judiciary, Parliament and prosecution in human trafficking prevention remains essential,” he said.
The Kenyan police officer pointed out the need to provide protective measures against human trafficking in the region.