A critique of the efficacy of the Prevention of Trafficking in Persons Act, 2009 : a case study of sexual exploitation in Uganda
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Sex trafficking is one of the prevalent modes of trafficking in persons. Victims of the vice are reported internally in the country, through Labour externalization and among those who travel on their own to search for jobs abroad more so in the Middle East. According to Willow International, there were 650, 455, and 666 Victims of sex trafficking in Uganda reported in 2018, 2019 and 2020, respectively. According to the International Organization for Migration, 150 victims of sex trafficking were reported between November and December 2020 after the re-opening of air travel. According to US State Department, there were 252 and 214 incidents of sex trafficking reported in 2019 and 2020, respectively. In 2020, there were 283 defendants for trafficking in persons of which 140 were for sex trafficking. According to the Justice and Law Sector Performance report of 2020, in 2020, 11 traffickers were convicted, of which 6 were sex traffickers, in 2019 16 traffickers were convicted. According to the Police CID, in 2020, 26 cases remained under inquiry while 129 cases were pending in court. According to the New Vision, in June 2020, authorities charged an army Officer with child sex trafficking after allegations that he had abducted and sexually exploited a 16 year old. According to ILO estimates between 7000 to 12000 Ugandans are sexually exploited annually. In 2021, according to the report of the National Task Force on Human Trafficking, out of 447 victims of trafficking, 114 were for sex trafficking. Sex Trafficking is more perpetuated internally and the victims are mostly women and children. The Law enforcers have also noted the shift of commercial sex from bars to brothels in commercial residences. The vice of sex trafficking persists despite the existence of the law for over 12 years because of logistical and competence deficiencies in the implementation of the law. This paper is to make a case for the financial implications of the law in investigations, victim protection, rescue and rehabilitation and technical competence of the law enforcers. Protection of victims is a vital objective of the Act. I believe this shall try to remedy the challenges in implementation of the law. It is a descriptive analysis, examining the complaints, arrests, investigations, prosecutions of the perpetrators and decided cases. Scrutinizing the procedure and guidelines for prevention and trial of sex trafficking. The paper is to study and interpret the law, the way it is and provide inputs considering its application and practice while being cognizant of the social context of Uganda.