News / Africa

Uganda Parliament Investigates Human Trafficking

Multimedia

Audio
Douglas Mpuga

Uganda’s parliament has established a committee to investigate security companies suspected of involvement in human trafficking. The investigation comes in the wake of mounting concern over thousands of men and young women sent abroad to become domestic servants or prostitutes.

Uganda has had a Trafficking in Persons Act since 2009, but no one has been prosecuted despite 16 ongoing investigations, according to the U-S State Department.

“We take this [human trafficking] issue very seriously,” said Elijah Okupa, a member of parliament for Kasilo County, who has been closely following the issue.

He blamed the executive branch of government for failing or being unable to enforce the Trafficking in Persons Act. “I think it [failure to implement] is a weakness on the part of the government. That is why in our petition we are urging and directing government to prosecute all those found to have violated this law.”

Okupa singled out Uganda Veterans Development Ltd (UVDL) – the company accused of exporting hundreds of Ugandan women into domestic slavery in 2009. “I think they are beneficiaries in this scam. There are people who are benefiting from [human] trafficking.”

He said the company, which is “owned by Col Mudola, a member of the ruling MRM [party] executive committee,” had its license cancelled and then re-issued.

This calls into question the seriousness of the government in addressing the issue, especially where it involves members of the ruling party, said Okupa, who petitioned Parliament to investigate the controversy.  

He said many of people named in the matter and those behind the companies accused of trafficking have close ties to government officials. He mentioned Nava Nabagesera, a former presidential assistant, and one Toyota Kaguta, a brother to President Yoweri Museveni.

The parliamentary committee report is expected by mid-March, he said, “but even before that we have asked the minister of security to provide security to the girls who have come back because they are being harassed.”

Okupa said women who have come back are being intimidated for bringing the issue to the attention of the media, and to parliament.  

“We also demand from government the list of all the people who have been taken out of the country by these companies and details of where they are.”

The testimonies of some of the 18 women who have been repatriated to Uganda from Iraq tell of being raped, tortured, and worked to exhaustion.

A report released in early February said that more than 600 Ugandan girls are currently trapped in Malaysian prostitution rings, where the human traffickers take advantage of lax immigration laws between Uganda and Malaysia.

The International Organization of Migration (IOM) says victims of trafficking who have returned to Uganda report being subjected to sexual slavery, rape and torture.

Ugandan sources suggest there may be as many as 600 trafficked Ugandan women currently in Malaysia, with between 10 and 20 more arriving each week.

You May Like

UN Ambassador Power Highlights Plight of Women Prisoners

She launches the 'Free the 20' campaign, aimed at profiling women being deprived of their freedom around the world More

Satellite Launch Sparks Spectacular Light Show

A slight delay in a satellite launch lit up the Florida sky early this morning More

Fleeing IS Killings in Syria, Family Reaches Bavaria

Exhausted, scared and under-nourished, Khalil and Maha's tale mirrors those of thousands of refugees from war-torn countries who have left their homes in the hopes of finding a better life More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs