Uganda regrets selling off girls to slave for Arabs

Man with hands chained above head, high section (toned B&W)

After carefully reviewing reports about the violation of the rights of Ugandan domestic workers in Saudi Arabia, the Minister of Gender Labour and Social Development banned the recruitment and deployment of Ugandans as domestic workers in any foreign country with effect from Friday 22nd January 2016. This decision was taken in accordance with the Government of Uganda’s long standing commitment to protect the rights of Ugandan migrant workers and Parliament of Uganda’s recommendation for a ban on the externalization of domestic workers.

Furthermore, the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development has in collaboration with other Ministries, Departments and Agencies taken measures to secure the lives and welfare of the Ugandan migrant workers who were stranded in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia regardless of whether they were deployed legally or not. Some of the measures taken include: provision of Consular Services to the stranded migrant workers by the Embassy of Uganda in Riyadh including visits at the detention centers, providing replacement travel documents and arranging their safe return to Uganda.

The Government joins Ugandans in expressing deep regret about the suffering and exploitation of Ugandan migrant workers abroad. However, the severity of the suffering of Uganda migrant workers should not be a cause for despair but a cause for action. Fortunately, the Government already has in place legal and institutional mechanisms upon which more robust measures for detecting, monitoring, controlling and preventing illicit labour export as well as exploitation of Ugandan migrant workers can be premised.

These include:
a) The Employment (Recruitment of Ugandan Migrant Workers Abroad) Regulations, 2005;
b) The Guidelines on Recruitment and Placement of Uganda Migrant Workers Abroad, 2013;
c) Strict licensing procedures for Recruitment Agencies which include vetting Directors of Recruitment Agencies by Interpol and presentation of a Bank Guarantee of Fifty Million Uganda shillings;
d) Vetting of all persons recruited for external deployment by Internal Security Organization and other Agencies;
e) A Model Employment Contract which stipulates the basic minimum rights of Ugandan migrant workers developed by the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development;
f) An Externalization of Labour Unit in the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development which among others responsibilities monitors the activities of the licensed recruitment agencies and ensures that the terms and conditions of service of Ugandan Migrant workers conform to the Model Employment Contract and
g) Overt and covert anti-human trafficking measures by the Uganda Police, ISO, ESO, CMI

Despite all the above measures, the evil of illicit labour export and violation of the rights of Ugandan migrant workers remains a serious challenge to be dealt with. Furthermore, the perpetuators of illicit labour export constantly devise new ways of overcoming measures put in place by Government to monitor, identify, prevent and control illicit labour migration activities.  Accordingly, the Government continuously reviews established mechanisms for dealing with illicit labour export and protecting the rights of Ugandan migrant workers.

Therefore, in an effort to understand better the problem of illicit labour export; the nature and extent of violation of the rights of Ugandan migrant workers and ultimately propose evidence based reforms, the Minister of Gender, Labour and Social Development on Friday 22nd January constituted a Committee to inquire into and inform him on this evil practice.

The Committee is expected to submit its Report to the Minister by 25th March 2016.  The Committee welcomes contributions from the Public and accordingly any person desirous of providing information on illicit labour export and or the violation of the rights of migrant workers in the Middle East should submit handwritten complaints or information to the Director for Labour, Employment and Occupational Safety and Health at 6th Floor, Simbamanyo House, Plot 2, George Street, Kampala by the 21st February 2016.

For avoidance of doubt, only the externalization of domestic workers has been banned. Externalization of other occupations therefore continues.  The public is strongly advised to use only licenced companies to enable authorities here and abroad to ensure the rights and welfare of Ugandan citizens are taken care of.  Anyone who uses unlicenced companies or self exports him/herself risks the consequences of abuse and exploitation.

The 55 licenced companies in number are currently as follows:
1. 2 Niles Public Relations Agency Limited
2. The Gideon’s Men Limited
3. Normandy Company Uganda Limited
4. Saracen (U) Limited
5. J. A. G. Security Group Limited
6. Security Link Limited
7. Ham Property Services and Management Limited
8. Mix Link Agency Limited
9. Jeveuxd’ Emploi Enterprise Limited
10. Maghrib Agencies Limited
11. Tirajo Employment Agency Limited
12. International Employment Linkages (U) Limited
13. Middle East Consultants Limited
14. Competitive Manpower International Limited
15. Round-Off International Limited
16. Karibun International Limited
17. Mobile Labour International Limited
18. Horeb Services (U) Limited
19. Paval Consult Limited
20. Axis Warriors Limited
21. Reliable Logicians Uganda Limited
22. Al-Madinah Agency Limited
23. Askar Security Services Limited
24. ALSACO International (U) Limited
25. Fountain Security Services Limited
26. SWATT Services Limited
27. Kamed L. S. (U) Limited
28. Kab International Services Limited
29. Geo-Jet Placements Limited
30. Detail Protection Services Limited
31. Gulf Exponents Limited
32. True North Consult Limited
33. Supreme Security Limited
34. Verdant Pastures Agency (U) Limited
35. Link 5 Limited
36. Asifiwe Business Solutions Limited
37. Eskom Link Limited
38. Sauman Services Limited.
39. KHM International Consultants Limited.
40. Elmvale Agency Limited
41. Global Manpower Solutions .U. Limited
42. Essential Communications Limited
43. Malisu Apollo Investments Limited
44. Spin Labour Consultants Limited
45. Trustin Company Limited
46. AmiyalSefer Limited
47. Golden Arm Limited
48. Alasker International Limited
49. Image Finances Limited
50. St. Augustine International University mechanisms -combating illicit labour export and protecting the rights of Ugandan migrant workers.

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