Away from home: An assessment of the effectiveness of Uganda’s anti-trafficking law enforcement mechanisms (2009-2014)
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The study assessed the effectiveness of the enforcement mechanisms on human trafficking in Uganda. Specifically, the study was guided by three objectives; to examine the contribution of the Prevention of Trafficking in Persons Act 2009 in the fight against human trafficking, to analyze Uganda’s enforcement mechanisms on human trafficking and to assess the effectiveness of the anti-human trafficking law enforcement mechanisms in promoting and protecting human rights in Uganda. A cross-sectional survey design was adopted for this study. The study employed both qualitative and quantitative research designs. Data was collected using questionnaires and interview guides from 66 respondents drawn from the coordinating office, enforcement agents, NGOs and rescued victims of human trafficking. Documentary analysis of reports from Ministry of internal affairs and US Department of State supplemented the primary data. The study findings indicate that the Trafficking in Persons Act is the law that specifically identifies, defines and elaborates on the crime of human trafficking in Uganda and has led to prosecution of traffickers and establishment of the Coordination Office to Combat Trafficking in Persons (COCTIP). Apart from the COCTIP, there are desks and offices specifically handling human trafficking cases in the Ministry of Internal Affairs; Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA); Ministry of Gender, Labor & Social Development (MoGLSD); and at the Criminal Investigations & Intelligence Directorate (CIID). Civil society is also involved in the fight against human trafficking for instance the International Organization for Migration (IOM)-Uganda and the Uganda Coalition of Civil Society Organizations against Trafficking in Persons (UCATIP). Uganda’s anti-trafficking efforts are driven by the four Ps (protection, prevention prosecution and partnership) that have largely been effective in raising awareness on human trafficking in Uganda, providing victims assistance like compensation, repatriation and restitution but also in prosecuting cases relating to human trafficking though not necessarily using the Prevention of Trafficking in Persons Act. The study concludes that the Act has specifically addressed the issue of human trafficking and contributed much to the fight against human trafficking especially by establishing COCTIP and the law being used to prosecute human trafficking cases. Most of the law enforcement agents working on human trafficking lack basic knowledge of the Act and see the contribution of the Act mainly in light of trying and prosecution of traffickers. There is also lack of consistency not only regarding statistics on human trafficking in Uganda, but also on actual existence of policies and plans. The study recommends more funding and increase in personnel for the COCTIP, sensitization of the enforcement agents and general masses on the trafficking Act and increased corroboration between the COCTIP, other ministries and the civil society as well.