Last Updated: Friday, 27 May 2016, 08:49 GMT

U.S. Department of State 2003 Trafficking in Persons Report - Uganda

Publisher United States Department of State
Author Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons
Publication Date 11 June 2003
Cite as United States Department of State, U.S. Department of State 2003 Trafficking in Persons Report - Uganda, 11 June 2003, available at: [accessed 29 May 2016]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Uganda (Tier 2)

Uganda is a source country, primarily for women and children trafficked to Sudan. Over the past 15 years, a rebel group, the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), has abducted tens of thousands of adults and children and forced them to carry stolen goods, cook, serve as sex slaves, and become rebel soldiers. In 2002, after the government attempted to deprive the LRA of safe haven in Sudan with military action, the number of abductions in Uganda increased significantly. The government acknowledges that internal trafficking of children for labor and commercial sexual exploitation is a growing problem. Street children and child domestics work long hours, are frequently denied food, endure physical and sexual abuse, and are isolated from their families and friends. There are reports of children being commercially sexually exploited, particularly in the capital and border towns.

The Government of Uganda does not fully comply with minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so despite severe resource constraints. There are more than 1.7 million orphans and thousands of displaced persons from civil unrest and HIV/AIDS. The government needs to develop anti-trafficking legislation, but in the meantime, it should step up civilian prosecutions of traffickers under current statutes.


The government acknowledges that the abductions constitute a trafficking problem and has ongoing military efforts to defeat the LRA. In conjunction with an international organization, the government launched a national campaign to combat the worst forms of child labor by targeting the growing population of orphans, street children, and child-headed households, all of which are vulnerable to exploitation. Public sensitization campaigns are being conducted, and district groups to address the needs of children, especially those in domestic service, are being formed. Education for girls and orphans are priorities for the government's universal primary education program. Uganda also participates in a regional program to combat child labor in the commercial agricultural sector, which is providing incentives to families to remove their children from hazardous work.


The Ugandan Penal Code prohibits the import, export, purchase, sale, receipt or detention of persons as slaves but does not cover other severe forms of trafficking. Soliciting females for prostitution carries a 7-year sentence, and rape is punishable by 18 years or the death penalty. There is no information that civilian cases were prosecuted in 2002, but when captured, LRA rebels normally are prosecuted for other crimes, such as treason and sedition, which carry harsh penalties. The government also has an amnesty law that absolves abducted persons and former rebels from criminal liability if they return and renounce rebellion. In 2002, the government increased efforts to interdict activities of the LRA.

Police do not receive specialized training, but labor inspectors are educated and trained about the worst forms of child labor.


The government rescues children and others abducted by the LRA during its military operations against the rebels. It provides food and shelter until victims can be transferred to NGOs. The military has a child protection unit trained to assist abductees and child soldiers. The government trains its embassy personnel in Sudan and Kenya to assist amnesty applicants. The cash-strapped government works closely with donors and NGOs and supports counseling services, reintegration programs, and other assistance for returning victims. It also provides support for food, shelter, rehabilitation, education, and vocational training services for street children, child prostitutes, domestic workers, and children involved in cross-border smuggling and drug trafficking.

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