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Street Children

Human Trafficking & Modern-day Slavery

Poverty drives the unsuspecting poor into the hands of traffickers

Published reports & articles from 2000 to 2025                          


Uganda has substantial natural resources, including fertile soils, regular rainfall, and sizable mineral deposits of copper, cobalt, gold, and other minerals. Agriculture is the most important sector of the economy, employing over 80% of the work force. Coffee accounts for the bulk of export revenues. Since 1986, the government - with the support of foreign countries and international agencies - has acted to rehabilitate and stabilize the economy by undertaking currency reform, raising producer prices on export crops, increasing prices of petroleum products, and improving civil service wages. [The World Factbook, U.S.C.I.A. 2009]

Description: Description: Uganda

Uganda is a source and destination country for men, women, and children trafficked for the purposes of forced labor and sexual exploitation. Ugandan children are trafficked within the country for forced labor in the fishing, agricultural, and domestic service sectors, as well as for commercial sexual exploitation; they are also trafficked to other East African and European countries for the same purposes. Karamojong women and children are sold as slaves in cattle markets or by intermediaries and are subsequently forced into domestic servitude, sexual exploitation, cattle herding, and begging.

Human trafficking of Ugandan children for the forcible removal of body parts reportedly is widespread; so-called witchdoctors seek various body parts of live victims for traditional medical concoctions commonly purchased to heal illness, foster economic advancement, or hurt enemies. - U.S. State Dept Trafficking in Persons Report, June, 2009 Check out a later country report here and possibly a full TIP Report here

CAUTION: The following links have been culled from the web to illuminate the situation in Uganda. Some of these links may lead to websites that present allegations that are unsubstantiated or even false.  No attempt has been made to validate their authenticity or to verify their content.



If you are looking for material to use in a term-paper, you are advised to scan the postings on this page and others to see which aspects of Human Trafficking are of particular interest to you.  Would you like to write about Forced-Labor?  Debt Bondage? Prostitution? Forced Begging? Child Soldiers? Sale of Organs? etc.  On the other hand, you might choose to include precursors of trafficking such as poverty and hunger. There is a lot to the subject of Trafficking.  Scan other countries as well.  Draw comparisons between activity in adjacent countries and/or regions.  Meanwhile, check out some of the Term-Paper resources that are available on-line.


Check out some of the Resources for Teachers attached to this website.

HELP for Victims

International Organization for Migration
3 12 26 11 79
Country code: 256-



Uganda: Increased Insecurity in Karamoja

James Karuhanga, Senior Researcher, Great Lakes Centre for Strategic Studies GLCSS, 13 November 2006

[accessed 2 January 2011]

The harsh weather and climatic limitations make livestock maintenance difficult both to the Karamojong and the neighboring tribes. They have to walk long distances, disregarding national boundaries, with their animals in search of pasture for grazing and water. This search for water and pasture has resulted in tribal fights and a culture of cattle rustling coupled with the Karimojong's natural belief that all livestock around them belongs to them, which heightens the inter-tribal clashes.

This is enforced by the fact that cattle are used as a "bride price" and the raids are a symbol of strength and manhood in the tradition of the community. In addition, there are continual reports of Karimojong children sold at weekly cattle markets in Kotido, Moroto and Nakapiripirit districts.

The alarming report reveals that child abuse is on the increase in the sub-region as desperate Karimojong parents sell their children, especially girls, to raise money to maintain the remaining members of their families.

Police issues measures to fight child sacrifice

Josephine Maseruka, The New Vision, 6 January 2009

[accessed 2 January 2011]

[accessed 20 June 2017]

A counter-trafficking unit has been created to curb child sacrifice and human trafficking, he said.

Kayihura's briefing came amid reports of increasing cases of ritual murders, with children as the main victims.

Kayihura noted that of the 18 suspected ritual murder cases reported to the Police last year, 15 had been conclusively investigated and the suspects committed to the High Court. He observed that most ritual murders were committed by either parents or relatives of the victims, adding that in the 15 cases, the suspects confessed.

The state minister for internal affairs, Matia Kasaija, regretted that there was a 600% increase in ritual murder, from the three reported in 2007, up to 18 cases last year. Kasaija noted that the problem was compounded by the increase in other crimes affecting children like kidnapping, abduction and child stealing.


*** ARCHIVES ***

Who is to blame for human trafficking, government or agencies?

Victoria Nyeko, Daily Monitor, 11 August 2019

[accessed 13 August 2019]

Recently, The EastAfrican newspaper reported that human trafficking is on the increase in the region. Since travel between the East African countries is now easier with passports no longer required, the neighbouring countries of Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania are said to be the main transit locations for trafficking. Although the most common form of human trafficking is sexual exploitation and forced labour, there is also a growing market for human organs ...

2020 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Uganda

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, 30 March 2021

[accessed 29 June 2021]


Local civil society organizations and media reported that many citizens working overseas, particularly in the Gulf States, became victims of forced labor. Civil society organizations reported that traffickers and legitimate recruitment companies continued to send mainly female jobseekers to Gulf countries where many employers treated workers as indentured servants, withheld pay, and subjected them to other harsh conditions.


Child labor was common, especially in the informal sector. Local civil society organizations and the UHRC reported that children worked in fishing, gold and sand mining, cattle herding, grasshopper collecting, truck loading, street vending, begging, scrap collecting, street hawking, stone quarrying, brick making, road construction and repair, car washing, domestic services, service work (restaurants, bars, shops), cross-border smuggling, and commercial farming (including the production of tea, coffee, sugarcane, vanilla, tobacco, rice, cotton, charcoal, and palm oil). Local civil society organizations and media reported poverty led children to drop out of school to work on commercial farms, while some parents took their children along to work in artisanal mines to supplement family incomes. According to government statistics, children from nearly half of all families living on less than $1 a day dropped out of school to work. Local civil society organizations reported that orphaned children sought work due to the absence of parental authority. Local civil society organizations and local media also reported commercial sexual exploitation of children (see section 6).

Local NGOs reported that children who worked as artisanal gold miners were exposed to mercury, and many were unaware of the medium- to long-term effects of the exposure. They felt compelled to continue working due to poverty and a lack of employment alternatives. Children also suffered injuries in poorly dug mine shafts that often collapsed.

Freedom House Country Report

2020 Edition

[accessed 8 July 2020]


Poor enforcement of labor laws contributes to unsafe or exploitative conditions for some workers, including extremely low pay. Child labor in agriculture, domestic service, and a variety of other industries is a significant problem, and the issue is most prevalent in rural areas. Sexual exploitation of minors is also an ongoing problem.

While Uganda has in place a number of domestic laws to promote workers’ rights, the government has failed to regulate the recruitment and transfer of Ugandan domestic workers to Middle Eastern countries. Accounts that surfaced in the media in 2019 described Ugandan workers in the Middle East experiencing sexual abuse, beatings, exploitation, and torture. A report issued by Parliament in late 2017 revealed the deaths of 48 Ugandans working in the Middle East in the first 11 months of that year, out of which 34 died by committing suicide. The government has promised legislation to regulate the employment of Ugandans abroad, and a draft bill was under consideration in late 2019.

2017 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor

Office of Child Labor, Forced Labor, and Human Trafficking, Bureau of International Labor Affairs, US Dept of Labor, 2018

[accessed 22 April 2019]

[accessed 8 May 2020]

Note:: Also check out this country's report in the more recent edition DOL Worst Forms of Child Labor

[page 996]

Children from the Karamoja region are trafficked and willingly migrate to Kampala and other urban centers where they engage in begging, street vending, domestic work, and commercial sexual exploitation. (2; 29; 30; 3) Children from neighboring countries are exploited in forced agricultural labor and commercial sexual exploitation in Uganda. (3) During the reporting period, child trafficking victims from the Busoga sub-region in Uganda were used in armed conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. (36).

Away From Home: An Assessment Of The Effectiveness Of Uganda’s Anti-Trafficking Law Enforcementmechanisms (2009-2014)

Tumwebaze Noah, Candidate for degree of Master Of Arts In Human Rights, Department Of Philosophy, Makerere University, April 2016

[Long URL]

[accessed 14 February 2022]

ABSTRACT - 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.

Diverse Human Trafficking Trends in East African Region Highlights Urgent Need for Greater Protection

International Organization for Migration IOM, 12-10-2010

[accessed 18 January 2016]

In Tanzania, IOM found evidence of child trafficking from Burundi, Rwanda and Uganda for sexual exploitation, fishing, domestic servitude and agricultural labour.

Adult victims were identified in the domestic sector, as well as the mining, agricultural and hospitality industries.

The IOM assessment established that Ugandan children are trafficked to all the countries in the region with Uganda also a destination for trafficked victims from Kenya, Tanzania and Rwanda. In addition, instability in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) was found to be fuelling the influx of trafficked children to Uganda. Victims are usually transported by road using buses, lorries and trucks. Adult victims originate from DRC, Kenya and Rwanda in the domestic, agriculture, fishing and sex industries.

Police must probe human trafficking

The New Vision, 11 April 2008

[accessed 2 January 2011]

[accessed 19 February 2018]

The Uganda Human Rights Commission and the Ministry of Labour are handling cases involving allegations that some people smuggle Indians from India and Pakistan into the country. They confiscate their passports and give them jobs where a big percentage of their wages is taken to recover the costs of bringing them here. After working for some time and accumulating salary arrears, when they start demanding their wages, the employers get them deported for illegal immigration. This is a modern version of slave trade, which has been reported in many countries.

Uganda: Child Neglect Tops Rights Abuses

Joyce Namutebi, The New Vision, Kampala, 20 September 2007

[accessed 2 January 2011]

In its 145-page report, the commission was concerned that child sacrifice, child trafficking, child labour, abduction, child soldiering, defilement, child prostitution and abuse were persisting in Uganda. "Police reports reveal that there were 185 victims of combined cases of child abduction, kidnap, disappearance, trafficking and sacrifice alone during the period between January and September 2006," the report said. Most of the children trafficked internally were from Buganda region, accounting for 36%, followed by Acholi (18%) and Ankole (8%).

Uganda: Forced Onto the Streets to Please the Men

Katarzyna Heath, The New Vision, Kampala, 9 September 2007

This article has been archived by World Street Children News and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 12 September 2011]

[accessed 27 February 2019]

Most of them flee their homes due to abuse and neglect, their heads filled with warped views of urban existence. In reality, these dreams are not fulfilled and the end result is there are children working and sleeping on the streets, fending for themselves in unsafe conditions.

The children are exposed to many dangers. Many become part of child trafficking. They are persuaded under false pretences by elders or family 'acquaintances' that they are moving to new places with better opportunities. Instead, they are trapped in a world of exploitation, which exposes them to anything from child prostitution to human sacrifices.

Migration body to monitor human trafficking impact

[Original source information not available]

[accessed 9 May 2020]

"Many girls are taken from Iringa and brought to major cities to work as housegirls but they end up being subjected to prostitution and other works which they did not expect, this is internal trafficking," she said.

Many young boys, she said, are taken to work in the mining companies, something which not only denies their rights but also are psychosocially affected.

A Hero in Hell. Former Drug Dealer Frees Abducted Child Soldiers in Sudan and Uganda

Maria Sliwa, Assist News Service ANS, Nimule, South Sudan, October 5, 2005

[accessed 2 January 2011]

In March of this year, a band of these small predators attacked a group of women who were collecting firewood near the border of Southern Sudan: just a few miles from Sam's orphanage. The juvenile attackers managed to effortlessly hack off the lips and ears of seven of the victims and abduct several others.

The children of the LRA perform these acts at the bidding of their adult counterparts and make up about 80 percent of the rebel group, according to the United Nations. The LRA has kidnapped more than 20,000 children since 1988 and today its captives constitute the largest army of child soldiers in Africa.

Uganda's forgotten war

Save the Children Denmark, 2003

[accessed 2 January 2011]

Has the world forgotten about us? That is the question raised by children in northern Uganda. At

least 20,000 children have been kidnapped and forced into being child soldiers in one of the most brutal rebel armies in the world.

Jennifer Achoro was twelve years old and on her way to school when she was kidnapped. "I had just put on my school uniform and was about to eat breakfast, when some men from the rebel army came and asked my mother whether we had a radio. When she said 'No,' they forced their way into our hut and forced me along with them."

Ex-child soldier's path to hope

Laura Smith-Spark, BBC News Online, 25 May 2004

[accessed 2 January 2011]

Ms Keitetsi says she was enlisted into Yoweri Museveni's National Resistance Army in Uganda at the age of eight in the1980s. She was given her first Uzi aged nine - and became a killer. Gesturing with what was her trigger finger, she says: "When I was a kid with a gun I felt big, I felt powerful. "With a gun you just needed to open the safety, cock the gun, use this finger and they are dead.

Child, slave, soldier

Testimony provided by the Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers, New Internationalist 337, August 2001

[accessed 2 January 2011]

HERE IS THE TESTIMONY OF ONE UGANDAN CHILD SOLDIER - I heard later that two boys from my home were captured and beaten because I had escaped. One of the boys was stabbed in the hand and asked to bring the rebels to my parents' home. They beat my mother and brother with clubs and axes until they died. They threatened that they'll kill more people if I don't come back. This was told me by a boy who lived near my home. He told me it was my fault my mother and brother had been killed.'

ICC: Investigate All Sides in Uganda

Human Rights Watch, February 4, 2004

[accessed 2 January 2011]

The ICC prosecutor, Luis Moreno Ocampo, announced in London on January 29 that he would begin an ICC investigation into crimes committed in Uganda.

According to Human Rights Watch research, the LRA has committed widespread abuses against civilians in Uganda, including child abductions, summary executions, torture, rape and sexual assault, forced labor, and mutilation. Recently, LRA abductions have reached record levels, with an estimated 10,000 children abducted since mid-2002 and forced to fight, kill civilians, and abduct other children. Children who fail to comply with orders are murdered, often by other children who are forced to kill them.

HRW Report - Child Soldier Use 2003

Human Rights Watch, Briefing for the 4th UN Security Council Open Debate on Children and Armed Conflict, 2004

[accessed 2 January 2011]

DEMOBILIZATION AND CHILD PROTECTION PROGRAMS - Children "rescued" from the LRA by the UPDF were kept in military confinement, sometimes for protracted periods, to gather intelligence before being transferred to the Child Protection Unit, and then to rehabilitation programs operated by NGOs including World Vision and the Gulu Save Our Children Organization (GUSCO).285 The 120 recruits identified at the Lugore training camp were demobilized and were taking part in counselling and reintegration programs. In response to the influx of "night commuters", child protection agencies and church groups established programs to feed and shelter these children.

Ugandan child soldier activist wins Anti-Slavery Award

Anti-Slavery International, 1 December 2000

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 12 September 2011]

George Omona, Project Co-ordinator of the Gulu Support the Children Organisation (GUSCO), will receive the 2000 Anti-Slavery Award from the UK human rights organisation, Anti-Slavery International, on 7 December at Waterstones Bookshop. Trevor Phillips OBE, Chair of the Greater London Assembly, will present the award to George Omona for his outstanding work with children affected by armed conflict.

Child Labour Persists Around The World: More Than 13 Percent Of Children 10-14 Are Employed

International Labour Organisation (ILO) News, Geneva, 10 June 1996

[accessed 9 September 2011]

[accessed 19 February 2018]

"Today's child worker will be tomorrow's uneducated and untrained adult, forever trapped in grinding poverty. No effort should be spared to break that vicious circle", says ILO Director-General Michel Hansenne.

Among the countries with a high percentage of their children from 10-14 years in the work force are: Mali, 54.5 percent; Burkina Faso, 51; Niger and Uganda, both 45; Kenya, 41.3; Senegal, 31.4; Bangladesh, 30.1; Nigeria, 25.8; Haiti, 25; Turkey, 24; Côte d'Ivoire, 20.5; Pakistan, 17.7; Brazil, 16.1; India, 14.4; China, 11.6; and Egypt, 11.2.


Human Rights Reports » 2005 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, March 8, 2006

[accessed 11 February 2020]

CHILDREN - According to UNICEF estimates, the LRA has abducted approximately 12 thousand children since 2002, and continued to abduct children during the year. The LRA forced children into virtual slavery as laborers, soldiers, guards, and sex slaves. In addition to being beaten, raped, and forced to march until exhausted, abducted children were forced to participate in the killing of other children who attempted to escape. More than 85 percent of LRA captives were made up of children whom the LRA abducted and forced to fight as rebels; most LRA rebels were between the ages of 11 and 16.

TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS - In addition to trafficking related to LRA abductions, adults and children were trafficked internally for labor, commercial sexual exploitation, and criminal activities. Trafficking in persons primarily occurred internally: the LRA abducted children to be soldiers, sex slaves, and porters. Freelance operators, including taxi drivers and hotel/bar operators, conducted the commercial sex trafficking.

Victims of internal trafficking were subjected to hazardous working conditions, and commercial sex victims were subjected to physical abuse and the risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases. Victims of commercial sex trafficking in urban centers often came from small rural villages.

The Department of Labor's 2004 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor

U.S. Dept of Labor Bureau of International Labor Affairs, 2005

[accessed 2 January 2011]

Note:: Also check out this country's report in the more recent edition DOL Worst Forms of Child Labor

INCIDENCE AND NATURE OF CHILD LABOR - Uganda is considered to be a source country for trafficking of persons.  There is evidence of children being abducted and trafficked across the border to Southern Sudan by the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA).  The government also acknowledges that internal trafficking of children for labor and commercial sexual exploitation occurs, particularly in border towns and in Kampala.

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