Entebbe, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | At least 20 Ugandan victims of human trafficking died last year whereas 175 mysteriously disappeared, according to a report released by the ministry of internal affairs.
The report released and launched Friday by the ministry’s Permanent Secretary, Lt Gen Joseph Musanyufu, shows 1,295 people were victims of internal and external trafficking.
At the end of the year 2021, twenty people were locally recovered dead or repatriated back in the country as corpses. The report shows out of 1,295 human trafficking victims, 576 were rescued while three hundred and five were intercepted being trafficked.
Gen Musanyufu said there is need to make the public understand that human trafficking is majorly local and it needs to be fought with all the energies. Musanyufu said when the public provides the information about the traffickers or victims, it increases chances of rescue or arrest of the perpetrators hence success in prosecution.
“We are increasingly seeing in victims being liberated and an increase in convictions of perpetrators,” Gen Musanyufu said. “We are discovering the channels. The increasing the number of rescues or prosecution shows that the vice is still there and it is not yet gone. We need to be more alert. Trafficking is both internal and external.”
Agnes Igoye, the deputy national coordinator trafficking in person department, said 501 suspects of trafficking in persons were arrested in 2021. Of these, four hundred and three were arraigned in courts of law of which 30 suspects were successfully convicted.
“Most of the victims were trafficked in the months of November which had 202 victims, October 163 victims and December with 153 victims,” Igoye said. “The number of victims increased in these months because of the reopening of the air transport and most of the victims in these months were transnational.”
Igoye adds that sexual exploitation was the most committed crime against victims of human trafficking followed by labour and forced marriage. At least 117 victims were sexually exploited internally while seven were external.
“The large population of unemployed youth and increased demand for semi-skilled labour in countries like Abu Dhabi, Oman and Jordan have increased labour exploitation, while sex trafficking remains the biggest form of exploitation for internal trafficking,” Igoye said. “This was driven by prolonged Covid-19 lockdown”.
Uganda had a very long Covid-19 lockdown as several sectors remained closed or partially operating for close two years in a bid to control the spread of highly contagious disease. Many girls were victims of local trafficking as they were subjected to commercial sex in bars and other entertainment places even though they were closed.
Gen Musanyufu said many people are trafficked on promises of well-paying jobs. He added that many victims and perpetrators do not know that they are victims or committing a crime. He advised people to be very careful because once arrested, they will face off with the law.