By Simon Masaba
Government is to deregister labour-exporting firms cited in cases of exploitation and torture by Ugandans recruited to work abroad.
The head of the Police Anti-Human Trafficking Unit, Moses Binoga, disclosed that the move follows an increase in cases of human trafficking. There are 31 firms licensed by the ministry of gender, labour and social development, according to a list released by the Police.
However, Police sources indicate that over 100 cases have been registered to the anti-human trafficking unit over the last three months, involving some of the firms.
Binoga was addressing the media at the ministry of Internal Affairs in Kampala with one of the latest victims of employment scams that have seen many Ugandans left at the mercy of abusive employers abroad.
The victim, whose names are withheld because of an ongoing probe, said she was rescued from an abusive employer in Qatar where she was employed as a maid.
“I was forced to work without pay. I bathed cold water during the winter and had abdominal complications,” she said.
“When I complained about feeling sick, I was sold to another employer, who treated me the same way. I was locked in a house for one month without communication.”
The victim said she left Uganda for Qatar with 35 others who were treated in a similar way by their respective employers.
One of the Ugandans, she disclosed, suffered a kidney problem and could probably be dead since her condition had worsened and there was no attention given to her.
She said that her repeated attempts to leave the job was met with resistance as the employer threatened her and claimed that they had paid a lot of money for her trip.
Then came her breakthrough.
Her miraculous escape came when she finally sent communication to her brother in Uganda, who sold his motorcycle (boda boda) and sent sh7m to Qatar to compensate the employer.
Binoga said urgent reform is needed to stop exports of Ugandans to work as maids to the Middle East.
“Kenya and Ethiopia no longer allow their citizens to travel abroad to work as house maids. This is an issue Uganda must also revise,” he said.
He mentioned that cases of human trafficking under the guise of recruiting foreign labour were on the rise.
Kuwait is the most notorious country where complaints of alleged torture and exploitation of Ugandans have been reported, Binoga revealed.
He said the victims are forced into prostitution, and are mistreated, denied medical care, food, communication back home while their travel documents are confiscated.
Most victims, Binoga said, are trafficked to Dubai, Qatar, Kuwait, Thailand, South Africa, Turkey, Oman, and India.
The 2012 Police Crime Report indicates that a total of 97 Ugandan nationals were trafficked to different countries and 11 foreign nationals trafficked to Uganda.