17 March 2013

Uganda: Girls Trafficked to South Sudan

More than eight Ugandans thought to be victims of human traffickers have been unearthed in South Sudan, triggering a wide police investigation.

Ugandan security is investigating the circumstances under which eight people, including five juveniles, were trafficked to the South Sudan capital, Juba. The victims were rescued by concerned Ugandans in Juba last month and handed over to authorities in Kampala.

The juveniles were reportedly trafficked from several districts in Uganda, including Masaka, to work as hawkers and domestic labourers in South Sudan. Moses Binoga, the Coordinator for Anti-Human Trafficking Taskforce at the ministry of Internal Affairs, exclusively said he individually travelled to Juba to receive the victims.

Binoga confirmed the arrest of two suspects; Godfrey Bukenya, a chef in Kampala and a one Musoke, in connection with several human trafficking cases. Security is also investigating reports that one Cathy Nakibuuka, a Ugandan in Juba, is the brains behind the human trafficking racket.

Nakibuuka claims to come from Masaka. According to Binoga, Nakibuuka "was found with four juveniles who were brought to her about two months ago; some do hawking business and some work at home."

Binoga says there is evidence that a driver of a truck that plies the Juba-Kampala road has been picking girls from Masaka for Nakibuuka.

"We have discovered that majority of these children are not paid salaries. They have to work for free for the first three months since their salaries for this period are meant to cover costs of the fare to Juba and commission for the "brokers," Binoga said.

Then after, salaries go to the kids' guardians and parents but we are not sure about this. This is exploitation and unacceptable, he said. He said government had evidence that girls are being trafficked from Uganda to Juba for prostitution in brothels.

"Many Ugandan children are forced into prostitution and child sex. Buyers come to brothels and pick girls of any age they want."

Asked to explain steps being taken to arrest the situation, Binoga said: "We are working closely with government of South Sudan to bring back home our girls."

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