UGANDA (Tier 2)

Uganda is a source and destination country for men, women, and children trafficked for the purposes of forced labor and sexual exploitation. Ugandan children are trafficked within the country for forced labor in the fishing, agricultural, and domestic service sectors, as well as for commercial sexual exploitation; they are also trafficked to other East African and European countries for the same purposes. Karamojong women and children are sold as slaves in cattle markets or by intermediaries and are subsequently forced into domestic servitude, sexual exploitation, cattle herding, and begging. Security companies in Kampala recruit Ugandans to migrate and work as security guards in Iraq where sometimes their travel documents and pay have been withheld as a means to restrain them and coerce them into continued labor. Pakistani, Indian, and Chinese workers are trafficked to Uganda, and Indian networks traffic Indian children to the country for sexual exploitation. Children from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Rwanda, Burundi, Kenya, and Tanzania are trafficked to Uganda for agricultural labor and commercial sexual exploitation. Until August 2006, the terrorist rebel organization, Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), abducted children and adults in northern Uganda to serve as soldiers, sex slaves, and porters. At least 711 additional people, mostly children, were abducted by the LRA between December 2007 and January 2009 in the Central African Republic, the DRC, and southern Sudan. Human trafficking of Ugandan children for the forcible removal of body parts reportedly is widespread; so-called witchdoctors seek various body parts of live victims for traditional medical concoctions commonly purchased to heal illness, foster economic advancement, or hurt enemies.

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. Despite these significant overall efforts, the government did not show progress in prosecuting human trafficking offenses and punishing trafficking offenders. In addition, the government's provision of protective victim services remained weak and sex trafficking victims continued to be arrested and sometimes punished.

Recommendations for Uganda: Increase efforts to prosecute, convict, and punish trafficking offenders; enact and implement the newly passed comprehensive anti-trafficking legislation; investigate and punish labor recruiters responsible for knowingly sending Ugandans into forced labor abroad; and develop further mechanisms for providing, in partnership with NGOs, protective services to all types of trafficking victims.


The government's punishment of trafficking offenders did not improve in 2008; however, extensive training of law enforcement officials and the establishment of an anti-trafficking police unit occurred late in the reporting period. The government reported no prosecutions or convictions compared to several trafficking convictions obtained the previous year. In 2008, the Minister of Internal Affairs partnered with Uganda's 102 female parliamentarians to advance draft comprehensive anti-trafficking legislation in Parliament. In early April 2009, the Parliament passed the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2008, which prescribes penalties of 15 years' to life imprisonment; these penalties are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with those prescribed for other grave crimes. The act will become law 45 days from the date of passage. In anticipation of the law's enactment, the government established a five-person anti-trafficking police unit within the Ugandan Police Force's (UPF) Child and Family Protection Unit (CFPU) in January 2009. Law enforcement officials investigated a number of suspected trafficking cases during the reporting period, but did not secure convictions of any trafficking offenders. For example, in November 2008, police in Rakai District arrested a Rwandan woman as she attempted to sell a 15-year old Rwandan boy. She was remanded to prison in Kampala; the case is pending before the court. Immigration officials posted at the border rescued 12 Tanzanian children from a Tanzanian trafficker who had promised to pay their school fees in Uganda.

After receiving foreign anti-trafficking training, 27 Ugandan instructors from the UPF, Immigration Department, and Ministry of Gender, Labor, and Social Development (MGLSD), in turn trained 2,010 colleagues in a series of one-day sessions in late 2008. The instructors distributed a UPF-developed 25-page pocket manual for first responders. The Inspector General of Police issued an order requiring all police officers to receive specialized anti-trafficking training.


The Ugandan government showed some efforts to offer initial protection to children demobilized from the ranks of the LRA, including trafficking victims, though it did less to care for victims of other types of trafficking. Lacking resources to provide direct assistance, it typically referred identified victims to NGOs. During the reporting period, the UPF referred 12 child trafficking victims to a local NGO's shelter. The UPF's January 2009 memorandum of understanding with the same NGO allowed for the placement of the NGO's social workers in the Central Police Station and in stations in two other districts to assist trafficking victims with legal, medical, and psychological services. The government also repatriated a child trafficking victim to Rwanda and assisted IOM in repatriating two female Ugandan victims by issuing travel documents. In 2008, the Ugandan military's Child Protection Unit (CPU) received 60 children returning from LRA captivity; children were processed at transit shelters before being transported to NGO-run rehabilitation centers for longer-term care. The government provided each child with non-food items and approximately $50 for resettlement. In December 2008, the Governments of Uganda, the DRC, and Southern Sudan launched a joint military operation against the LRA in the DRC's territory, enabling the rescue of 346 people, including 127 children; as of this Report's writing, 10 Ugandan children were transferred to a rehabilitation center in northern Uganda. The government continued to remove Karamojong children in possible trafficking situations from the streets of Kampala and transferred them to two shelters in Karamoja. Local governments also convened child labor committees that instituted local bylaws against child labor, monitored the working conditions of children, and counseled parents whose children were not in school. The government does not have a formal system to identify victims among high risk groups and potential victims are sometimes prosecuted for immigration or prostitution violations. The Minister of Internal Affairs possesses the authority to allow foreign victims to remain in Uganda to assist with investigations, but this authority was not used and most potential victims were quickly deported to their country of origin. The government encouraged victims of sex trafficking to testify against their exploiters.


The government sustained its efforts to prevent human trafficking through increased public awareness efforts during the year. The Parliamentary Committee on Defense and Internal Affairs conducted extensive and well-publicized hearings on the draft Bill for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons. In December 2008 and January 2009, the UPDF (Ugandan People's Defense Force) airdropped flyers to LRA abductees in eastern DRC directing them to locations for rescue. The government also continued its use of local language radio spots to persuade abducted children and their captors to surrender. In February 2009, the government established a 15-member inter-ministerial anti-trafficking task force comprised of police, immigration, and MGLSD officials. The police announced the availability of a new hotline to report trafficking cases in the same month. Joint government-NGO efforts to reduce the demand for commercial sex acts included a billboard campaign in Uganda's major cities discouraging "sugar daddies," and arrests of men found procuring females in prostitution on disorderly conduct charges. The government provided two Ugandan battalions being deployed to the African Union Mission in Somalia with training on human trafficking from the UPDF's Human Rights Desk and CPU personnel. Ugandan forces deployed to the DRC in December 2008 received refresher briefings on the treatment of children abducted by the LRA; each deployed unit contained two to five child protection officers. Uganda has not ratified the 2000 UN TIP Protocol.


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