With the region grappling with major issues of human trafficking, the Assembly has today taken a bold step to arrest and stem the illegal trade.The Assembly at its sitting this morning passed a Resolution calling for urgent action to prevent trafficking in persons, protect the victims and persecute the perpetrators of trafficking.
EALA is also keen to see a regional law on anti-trafficking in persons enacted so as to address the cross-border aspect of trafficking in persons.With it, EALA also urged the Partner States to enact comprehensive anti-trafficking persons legislation in accordance with the Palermo Protocol which incorporates the prevention of trafficking in persons, protection of the victims and the prosecution of offenders.
Once again, EALA urged the Council of Ministers to operationalize Article 27 of the Treaty of EAC and conclude a protocol to extend jurisdiction of the East African Court of Justice to handle human rights cases which encompass trafficking in persons.
The motion was moved by Hon Dora Byamukama and seconded by Hon Frederic Ngenzebuhoro. The Motion received overwhelming support on the floor of the House The Resolution avers that EAC Treaty provides that Partner States agree to enhance co-operation in the handling of cross-border crime and provision of mutual assistance in criminal matters. This it says includes the arrest and repatriation of fugitive offenders and the exchange of information on national mechanisms for combating criminal activities.
Article 5(3) (a) and (b) provides that the Community shall ensure inter alia the attainment of sustainable growth by promotion of balanced and harmonious development of Partner States and this is anticipated to lead to improvement of quality of life among Partner States.
However the Resolution states that trafficking in persons which is also known as modern day slavery is a grave abuse of human rights and is caused by several drivers including poverty, unemployment, promises of better life and corruption. This, the Motion states must be stemmed using a multi-faceted approach.
In her justification, Hon Dora Byamukama, the mover of the Resolution says all EAC Partner States are source countries and destination countries. All countries have legislation on human trafficking but there is need for harmonization of the same, the legislator said. The number of prosecutions, and convictions are low, she added.
She called for protection of victims and urged Government and Non-Governmental Organisations to collaborate on the sameDuring debate today, Hon Pareno called for more stringent laws to punish perpetrators of the crime. We must prevent recurrence and punish the wrong-doers she said. “We also need psychosomatic counselling to help victims recover and give evidence. The Partner States could go ahead and give them safe houses and legal counsel services as they recover, the legislator said.
She added that training of immigration officers was necessary to enable them detect cases of trafficking.Hon Patricia Hajabakiga said data with regards to numbers and gravity on the matter was alarming. According to the legislator 70-80% of the trafficking cases are women, who are sold for slavery or sex work.
In the last century, the continent went through slavery and we were never able to stop it. It is against African values, democracy and governance. Africa and EAC in particular must sit down and see how to protect itself.
She urged the Council of Ministers to debate the Resolution further.
Hon Martin Ngoga said human trafficking was ranked third after arms and drugs. He said EAC was the source, destination and route of the crime of human trafficking. Our law enforcement must acknowledge the magnitude of the proble, he said. We must have collective efforts at all levels. It is important for our embassies abroad to capture data on human trafficking as well.
Hon Nusura Tiperu said the Afrian women’s pride was been vandalized due to human trafficking. She lauded the governments of Partner States for getting into arrangements with other countries to streamline employment opportunities overseas. Uganda for example has an agreement with Saudia Arabia to regulate mechanisms and track the numbers of employees going there, she said.
Hon Leonce Ndarubagiye said data capturing on adoption was vital and necessary while Hon Ussi Maryam called for stiffer penalties on those who are convicted of human trafficking.
Hon Abubakar Zein termed human trafficking a vicious crime which puts persons in bondage and one that was associated with blackmail, forced labour, slavery and rape among other heinous crimes.
Others who supported were Hon Susan Nakawuki, Hon Zein ABuHon Joseph Kiangoi , Hon Mukasa Mbidde, Hon Nancy Abisai, Hon Valerie Nyirahabineza and Hon Dr. Odette Nyiramilimo.
The 2nd Assembly passed a Resolution urging the Community and Partner States to take urgent and concerted action to end violence against Women in the EAC Region and particularly the Partner States. The Resolution resolved among other things to urge Partner States to condemn all acts of violence against women including traficking in women.