Uproar as traffickers use online system to take Ugandans abroad
By George Aine
Security officers working in the border districts have urged the government to regulate online job recruitment for people who want to work abroad, saying many hackers are exploiting loopholes in the system to traffic Ugandans.
Speaking during a stakeholders’ engagement workshop at Busia Municipal Youth Centre on Saturday, the security officers said many criminal syndicates are exploiting the online system to deal in human trafficking.
“There is a lot of human traffic along the Uganda-Kenya border points but sometimes our hands are tied up because the people, who are being trafficked, were recruited online and have genuine travel documents,” said Mr. Henry Alyanga, the Bukedi region CID officer, during the workshop organised by Platform for labor Action Uganda (PLAU) in partnership with the Ministry of Internal Affairs.
In April this year, the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development digitized the entire process related to external employment – from registration of approved recruitment agencies to listings of available jobs, requirements for applicants and the application process itself.
However, Mr. Alyanga said human trafficking perpetrators now use online recruitment system to lure unsuspecting Ugandans into slavery in the Middle East and Asia.
The CID officer revealed that the traffickers open up fake recruitment websites and call for applications which many Ugandans cannot easily verify.
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He said once the online recruitment process is regulated, the perpetrators working for various criminal syndicates will be frustrated and abandon the business.
Use of porous borders
The Namisindwa Resident District Commissioner, Mr. Robert Mutemo, said due to the tight screening at Entebbe airport, the human traffickers have also resorted porous borders like Lwakhakha border.
“They are exploiting the existing inadequate security to traffic people to Kenya and other countries to either work as maids and shamba boys,” he said.
Ms. Lydia Bwite, the manager rights social protection and accountability (PLAU), however, said cases of human trafficking are on the increase on various border points because of rampant corruption.
“’It’s sad to note that sometimes some of the security officers at the border are bribed by the victims and they even go ahead to guide them on the illegal routes, where they can’t be intercepted,” she said.
She also challenged the government of Uganda to work with their Kenyan counterpart to crack down on criminal human trafficking syndicates operating within the respective countries.
“There is a need for the two countries to come together and fight human traffic along the Uganda-Kenya border points,” she said.
Recently, Uganda and Kenya signed a memorandum of understanding that aims at cracking down on human trafficking.
However, when contacted, Mr. Martin Wandera, the director of labour at the ministry of Gender, urged those intending to work abroad to contact the ministry.
Mr. Wandera said the External Employment Management Information System (EEMIS) is secure, encrypted and hosted at the National Information Technology Authority (NITA-U).
He said with the system, the government can also monitor any abuse of the worker-employer contract and intervene.