UGANDA (Tier 2)

Uganda is a source and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to trafficking in persons, specifically forced labor and forced prostitution. Ugandan children are exploited in conditions of forced labor within the country in the fishing, agricultural, and domestic service sectors, as well as for commercial sexual exploitation; they are also taken to East African and European countries for the same purposes. Karamojong women and children in particular are subject to domestic servitude, commercial sexual exploitation, cattle herding, and begging. Security companies and employment agencies in Kampala recruit Ugandans to migrate and work as security guards and domestic servants in Iraq, where sometimes their travel documents and pay have been withheld as a means to obtain and maintain their compelled labor; labor trafficking victims repatriated from Iraq in 2009 reported harsh working conditions, physical and sexual abuse, withholding of food, and being confined to their employer's residence.

Pakistani, Indian, and other Asian migrant workers are subjected to forced labor in the country, and South Asia crime networks transport South Asian children to the country for commercial sexual exploitation. Children from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Rwanda, Burundi, Kenya, Tanzania, and Sudan are subjected to forced agricultural labor and commercial sexual exploitation in Uganda. Until August 2006, the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) abducted children and adults in northern Uganda to serve as soldiers, sex slaves, and porters. There have been no LRA attacks in Uganda since 2006, but some of these children remain captive with LRA elements currently located in the DRC, Central African Republic, and southern Sudan.

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. The government's efforts to investigate human trafficking offenses increased during the year, though it did not show progress in prosecuting human trafficking offenses and punishing trafficking offenders.

Recommendations for Uganda: Implement comprehensive anti-trafficking legislation; increase efforts to prosecute, convict, and punish trafficking offenders; institute a unified system of documenting and collecting data on human trafficking cases for use by law enforcement, labor, and social welfare officials; investigate and punish labor recruiters responsible for knowingly sending Ugandans into forced labor abroad; launch a nationwide anti-trafficking public awareness campaign with a particular focus on forced labor; and establish policies and procedures for government officials to proactively identify and interview potential trafficking victims and transfer them to the care, when appropriate, of local organizations.


The Government of Uganda's overall anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts improved in 2009, from no reported prosecutions or convictions in 2008 to three prosecutions and one conviction in 2009. The Ugandan Police Force's (UPF) Child and Family Protection Unit (CFPU) investigated a number of suspected trafficking cases during the reporting period, but courts failed to move pending cases through the judicial process. The investigations reported in the 2009 Report did not result in active prosecutions during the year. Neither the police nor the Department of Public Prosecution maintained records of investigations, prosecutions, or convictions of trafficking offenses, and could not provide comprehensive statistics or information on particular cases. In October 2009, the President signed the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2008 and it was published in the official gazette. The penal code was not, however, updated to reflect the new law and the Attorney General did not formally notify the police – steps that are required to bring new legislation into effect. The act prescribes punishment of 15 years' to life imprisonment, penalties which are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with those prescribed for other serious crimes. Because the law is not yet in effect, suspected trafficking offenses continued to be charged under other statutes during the year, such as prohibitions on procurement for prostitution, defilement, and kidnapping. For example, in February 2009, a Kampala court sentenced a Ugandan woman to four years' imprisonment for abducting three girls to serve as domestic servants in southern Sudan. In March 2009, a Mbale court issued an indictment against two Ugandan women on charges of kidnapping for alleged abduction of four children and taking them to Kenya for forced labor. The UPF incorporated a one-day trafficking first responder course into the basic training program at the police academy. By April 2009, the CFPU had provided this training to 150 officers.


The government sustained its moderate levels of protection for child victims during the reporting period. The government has not developed or implemented procedures for the systematic identification of victims among high risk groups; as a result, potential victims are sometimes prosecuted for immigration or prostitution violations. Lacking resources to provide sufficient direct assistance, it typically referred those victims it did identify to NGOs on an ad hoc basis. During the year, the UPF identified and referred 12 child trafficking victims to a local NGO's shelter in Kampala. Its memorandum of understanding with the same NGO continued to allow for the presence of the NGO's social workers in three police stations to assist trafficking victims with legal, medical, psychological, and family tracing services. The UPF worked in partnership with Kenyan authorities to repatriate four child victims to Uganda. The Ministry of Gender, Labor, and Social Development (MGLSD) continued to remove Karamojong children in possible trafficking situations from Kampala's streets and transferred 300 of them to two MGLSD-operated shelters in Karamoja that provided food, medical treatment, counseling, and family tracing. The ministry also operated a facility in Kampala for the initial intake of street children. There were, however, no similar government-funded or operated facilities or services for adult trafficking victims. In 2009, the Ugandan military's Child Protection Unit in Gulu received and processed 66 children returning from LRA captivity before transporting them to NGO-run rehabilitation centers for longer-term care. The government provided each child with basic nonfood items for resettlement.

In mid-2009, the government issued travel documents for the repatriation of 14 Ugandan women from Iraq in partnership with IOM and the Governments of Iraq and the United States. The Special Task Force for the Elimination of Human Sacrifice and Trafficking, a 15-member inter-ministerial committee headed by the Deputy Police Commissioner, assisted with the repatriation of three Ugandan girls from a separate case in Iraq. Current Ugandan law does not provide assistance to foreign trafficking victims and immigration officials are required to deport individuals in violation of the immigration code without regard to their status as trafficking victims. In 2009, however, the Ministry of Internal Affairs allowed Pakistani victims, on a case-by- case basis, to remain in Uganda to assist with an investigation. Once in effect, the new anti-trafficking law will remedy many of the current legal limitations regarding the protection of foreign victims. The government reports that it has a policy of encouraging trafficking victims to testify against their exploiters, though no victims chose to do so during the last year.


The Ugandan government sustained its efforts to prevent human trafficking through increased public awareness efforts during the year. In January 2010, the task force began compiling a comprehensive report on human trafficking for release in mid-2010. In the same month, it directed district security committees to form task force teams under their respective police commanders to improve local efforts to combat trafficking; teams have been established in some parts of the country. The police operated a specific hotline for reporting trafficking cases, but failed to keep records of calls, if any, received. Following the repatriation of trafficked Ugandan domestic workers from Iraq, the External Labor Unit of the MGLSD revoked the license of the employment agency that fraudulently recruited them and, in August 2009, officially suspended the sending of domestic workers to Middle Eastern countries. Local governments convened child labor committees, enforced local bylaws against child labor, monitored the working conditions of children, and counseled parents whose children were not in school. The MGLSD's labor inspectors conducted no investigations of exploitative or forced child labor in 2009 and reported no open cases involving such crimes. The small number of inspectors and limited resources precluded inspections in the rural areas or the informal sector. During the year, police investigated hundreds of reports of human sacrifice, many involving forced removal of body parts, and confirmed the validity of 29 cases, 15 of which involved the victimization of children; it did not transfer any of these cases to courts for prosecution. In November 2009, the task force and a local NGO launched a campaign against the forced removal of body parts for human sacrifices in both Kampala and Kamuli District, and hosted a public dialogue on the issue that was covered by local media. Government officials also participated in a solidarity march to protest increased incidents of child sacrifices. The government did not make efforts to reduce the demand for forced labor or sex acts. The government provided anti-trafficking training to members of the Ugandan armed forces prior to their deployment abroad on international peacekeeping missions. Uganda is not a party to the 2000 UN TIP Protocol.


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