About the Project

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The project analyses the operationalization of international and regional human rights standards on human trafficking in Uganda, focusing particularly on the gender and child rights dimension of human trafficking among forced migrants i.e. refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs), displaced because of conflicts in neighboring countries and in Northern Uganda.

The project explores how and whether the State is moving beyond a criminal justice-centered approach to combating human trafficking.  Investigating this, the project will analyze the potential of international and regional human rights standards to reform laws, policies and practice towards a human rights-based approach that focuses on prevention of trafficking and protection of the rights of victims/survivors of trafficking.

Uganda has taken several measures to strengthen the coordination of counter-trafficking policy, and to build capacity among law enforcement bodies, at national level. These specialized measures include multilateral and bilateral cooperation, engagement with indigenous civil society organisations, and to a limited extent, engagement with UN human rights bodies and international organisations including International Organisation for Migration (IOM)

Legislative and operational measures to respond to the crime of human trafficking in Uganda, include the adoption of the 2009 Anti-Trafficking Act, increased specialization and training within the police and the judiciary, and the strengthening of coordination through the establishment of the inter-ministerial National Task Force for the Prevention of Trafficking in Persons led by the  Minister of Internal Affairs (MIA), and supported by the Coordination Office for Prevention of Trafficking in Persons (COPTIP). With the support of IOM, a five year National Action Plan for the Prevention of Trafficking in Persons (NAP) was developed and adopted in 2015 to run from 2013 – 2018, and a new NAP is also being developed with the help of IOM to run from 2019 - 2023. Uganda has signed the Palermo Protocol, (the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons Especially Women and Children, 2000), however, it has not yet ratified the Protocol. 

At the level of civil society, several NGOs work with victims of trafficking, and seek to strengthen institutional and law enforcement capacity to combat trafficking in human beings, and to promote the rights of victims. The Ugandan Civil Societies Coalition against Trafficking in Persons (UCATIP) participates in the National Task Force on Trafficking in Persons, representing a range of NGOs and academic institutions. The Refugee Law Project at the School of Law, Makerere University, is a member of this coalition and the partner in this project.

The Refugee Law Project

Established in 1999 to provide legal aid to asylum seekers and refugees in Uganda, the Refugee Law Project (RLP) is an indigenous Ugandan organisation and an outreach project of the School of Law, Makerere University. RLP was formed in response to the realisation that despite Uganda’s strong international reputation for providing asylum to refugees, refugees did not always enjoy their rights in accordance with domestic and international law.

RLP incorporates a Human Rights approach to providing for refugees upholding the values of non-discrimination, rigour, innovation, respect, accountability, professionalism and independence. RLP also works closely with the Office of the Prime Minister, Ministry of Internal Affairs, the Justice Law and Order Sector, local government officials and refugee communities to engage in education and training activities aimed at addressing refugee issues using a Human Rights lens.

RLP has an active research and advocacy component committed to providing necessary empirical support for any debate about policy and legislation, and to advocate on behalf of its client base. Since its formation, RLP has further widened the scope of its activities to include other forced migrants such as IDPs, as well as examining questions surrounding Access to JusticeGender and SexualityConflict Transitional Justice and GovernanceMental Health and Psychosocial WellbeingMedia for Social Change and Climate Change and Forced Migration seeing as these affect forcibly displaced populations as well, bringing its overall focus from only Refugees to “Justice & Forced Migration”.

Aims and objectives

The project aims to develop a human rights based approach to counter-trafficking laws, policies and practices in Uganda, focusing in particular on the gender and child rights dimension of trafficking among refugees and internally displaced persons, displaced due to conflict.

Project Objectives

The project will: 

  • Analyse and evaluate legislative, policy and procedural measures taken to strengthen access to justice for victims / survivors of trafficking in Uganda, drawing on the methodology developed by the Council of Europe anti-trafficking treaty monitoring body (GRETA);
  • Develop policy proposals to integrate international and regional human rights standards and SDG targets on gender equality and sexual and gender-based violence, into counter-trafficking law and practice in Uganda;
  • Develop policy recommendations and position papers, identifying good practices, and challenges arising in counter-trafficking law and practice in East Africa, with reference to Uganda country experience;
  • Examine and recommend further legislative and policy reforms to strengthen a child rights response to trafficking of children in Uganda, focusing in particular on unaccompanied and separated refugee and internally displaced children;
  • Examine the limits and effectiveness of bilateral and multilateral human trafficking prevention measures in Uganda and regionally in East Africa, and develop further policy proposals for international human rights based cooperation measures.