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Uganda: empower courtrooms to handle child trafficking cases

September 17th, 2020

With the Prevention of Trafficking In Persons (PTIP) Act 2009, Uganda has up to date legal provisions to curb human and specifically child trafficking. However, Uganda is still a source, transit and destination country for trafficking in persons. In a dialogue with the judiciary and magistrates, Terre des Hommes and partners have pleaded for better enforcement of the existing legal framework, to help prevent and prosecute child trafficking cases. Court processes should be child friendly to accommodate child trafficking survivors.

Lady Justice Damalie Lwanga, executive director of the Judicial Training Institute
Lady Justice Damalie Lwanga, executive director of the Judicial Training Institute

Child majority in domestic trafficking

The dialogue with the judiciary and magistrates took place at the Judicial Training Institute (JTI) in Kampala. Under the Girls Advocacy Alliance programme, it was initiated by our partners Rahab Uganda and Dwelling Places, who both focus on countering domestic child trafficking. Even though international trafficking cases tend to draw the headlines, the trends in internal cases are worrying especially from a child protection perspective. In 2018 for example, with 73 girls and 42 boys, children constituted the majority of internal human trafficking.

Child friendly court processes

The dialogue focused on ways to ensure that children get access to justice in child trafficking cases. Participants agreed that the court processes should be made more child friendly and less traumatising for the child survivors. Lady Justice Damalie Lwanga, JTI’s executive director, for instance pleaded for a court’s discretion in deciding whether or not evidence coming from children needs corroboration. 

Making Uganda safer for children

James Yesiga, country manager Uganda with Terre des Hommes Netherlands, emphasised that more convictions and harsher punishments would work as a deterrent to potential offenders. He called for more proactive judgements under the PTIP Act 2009 from the judiciary.  As a child rights organisation, Terre des Hommes appreciates the commitment of the judiciary to bring offenders to book. But more remains to be done to make Uganda safer for children.

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