U.S. Department of State 2006 Trafficking in Persons Report - Uganda

Uganda (Tier 2)

Uganda is a source country for men, women, and children trafficked for forced labor and sexual exploitation. The terrorist rebel organization Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) abducts children and adults in northern Uganda and southern Sudan to serve as cooks, porters, agricultural workers, and combatants; girls are subjected to sex slavery and forced marriage. Some abducted children and adults remain within Uganda, while others are taken to southern Sudan or eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. There are reports of a small number of children serving in the Uganda People's Defense Forces (UPDF) and various local militias known as Local Defense Units; there is no evidence that security forces conscript children. Ugandan girls are trafficked within the country from rural villages to border towns and urban centers for commercial sexual exploitation.

The Government of Uganda does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. To further its anti-trafficking efforts, the government should prosecute perpetrators of child commercial sexual exploitation, develop a mechanism for providing protective services to all types of trafficking victims, take steps to pass a comprehensive anti-trafficking law, and clarify which cases of child defilement meet the definition of trafficking in persons.


With the exception of the existing amnesty program, the government's anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts were minimal during the reporting period. Uganda does not have a comprehensive law specifically prohibiting trafficking in persons; however, during the year, a member of parliament drafted a comprehensive anti-trafficking law and lobbied for support. The penal code specifies penalties for several trafficking-related offenses, such as forced labor, but there have been no trafficking cases prosecuted under these laws. The government's vigorous prosecution of "child defilement" cases included an undetermined number of cases involving trafficked children. Police conducted several anti-prostitution "sweeps" in urban centers; statistics on children in prostitution found during these activities were not kept and these girls were generally released the same day. In October 2005, the Ugandan and Sudanese Governments expanded their agreement permitting UPDF operations on Sudanese territory, allowing the UPDF to use air support and operate north of the previous boundary line. When captured, LRA rebels are not charged with human trafficking. Instead, almost all ex-combatants apply for amnesty; in 2005, 691 former LRA combatants applied for and received amnesty. The UPDF reportedly screened out 72 children applying to join military forces in early 2005.


While the government offers initial protection to children separated from the LRA, it does little to care for those exploited in prostitution. In 2005, the UPDF's Child Protection Unit facilitated the reception and debriefing of 563 surrendered or captured child soldiers at two reception centers, as well as their subsequent transfer to NGO-run reintegration programs. Child soldiers that have been reintegrated by NGOs into their communities are provided the same protective services extended to the entire community. The government does not offer protection for child victims of commercial sexual exploitation. In June, the Ministry of Gender, Labor, and Social Development began coordinating the administration of government services and international funds that support vulnerable children, including those in prostitution or made vulnerable by conflict.


The government demonstrated greater initiative to increase public awareness of trafficking during the reporting period. In northern Uganda, the government used regular local-language radio programs to persuade abducted children to return from the bush. ILO-IPEC trained 150 local police officers and 38 senior police commanders to raise local community awareness on the nature and dangers of exploitative child labor, including child commercial sexual exploitation. Between October and December 2005, these officers led over 40 community meetings on the subject, visited more than 40 schools, participated in 25 radio programs, and trained an additional 300 police officers on their responsibility to prevent child exploitation and enforce the related laws. Government officials participated in a national anti-trafficking working group that supported the drafting of an anti-trafficking law.


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