Focus was on, among other things, equipping duty bearers with the ability to identify cases and survivors of trafficking.
(Credit: Andrew Masinde)
KAMPALA - As many as 177 law enforcement officers and duty bearers from Busia and Tororo districts have received extensive training on how to combat, investigate and handle cases of human trafficking.
The training organized by Platform for Labour Action (PLA) took place in Kampala.
The aim, according to PLA executive director Grace Mukwaya Lule, was to enhance the officers’ capacity on the laws and policies on human trafficking.
Focus was on, among other things, equipping duty bearers with the ability to identify cases and survivors of trafficking and how to effectively handle them.
It was also to increase knowledge and awareness among targeted stakeholders on the schemes and trafficking routes used, and relevant legislations for combating the vice.
“Our priority is prevention, followed by protection of survivors and the officers were selected because they live in the communities and interface with people on a daily basis,” said Lule.
Participants were from the Community Liaison, Criminal Investigation, Child and Family Protection Unit, Internal Security, Immigration, Probation, Community Development, Labour office.
There were also representatives from Coalition Against Trafficking in Persons as well as local leaders.
Sergeant John Wabwire, a police officer attached to Mukono Police Station, admitted that before the training, he did not know how best to handle the cases of human trafficking which led to an increase in the backlog.
But after being trained, he now trusts the situation is to change.
“Upon returning to the station, I am going to carry out community sensitization meetings and hold talk shows to enlighten members of the public about TIPs (trafficking in persons) – its dangers and how to combat it.”
Wabwire said he would also share key information with other leaders and fellow police officers to “help build their capacity and as a result contribute to reduction of cases”.
According to Anna Fhakkar, the programme manager at Samaritan Purse International, the training was informed by the urgent need to combat human trafficking in Uganda and the trained stakeholders are critical in achieving this through sensitizing them about their roles and responsibilities.
“Human trafficking itself keeps evolving hence the importance of updating stakeholders on latest trends because once they have the knowledge they are able to deal with it.”
Abbey Mivule, the LC1 Chairperson of Lule Zone, Bwaise 1 Parish in Kawempe division said he had learnt to be more vigilant with especially new people coming into his village and those working as domestic workers because they could have been trafficked.
Moses Binoga, the National Coordinator Prevention of Trafficking in Persons, provided the state of human trafficking in 2016: 283 victims were registered, 57 were victims of internal trafficking while 226 were of transnational trafficking.
Majority of the registered victims were female adults and children, he revealed.
“Majority were trafficked by means of deception, fraud, debt bondage for jobs abroad and children from poor families by means of their vulnerability.”
Last year, labour and sexual exploitation were leading abuses, fraudulent removal of body organs for transplant, illicit adoptions and use of children in armed conflict were different forms of abuses faced.
In a 2016 report by PLA on the schemes, routes and factors promoting the prevalence of human trafficking across the eastern border districts of Uganda, 86% of victims of trafficking were recruited through lies and 84% were female and 16% male.
Majority were taken to Saudi Arabia (37.2%), followed by Kuwait (18.6%), United Arab Emirates (9.3%), Oman (7%), Kenya (7%), Qatar (4.7%), China (2.3%) and other countries (14%).
In destination countries, half of them suffered physical deprivation of sleep, food and light (51%); 46% reported constant poor health, 16.3% sexual abuse, 30% reported physical abuse/violence, 63% reported threats and intimidation, 60% reported physical and social isolation and 63% reported forced labour and heavy work.
The report further indicates that of 81% of these people reported salary variations and poor working conditions. While some were not paid at all and resorted to sex work, 88% were not given any letters of appointment before departure; only 12% received at destination country.