KAMPALA – The Founding pastor of Life Line Ministries International – Apostle Julius Peter Oyet, known for agitation against human trafficking and labour externalisation, has warned that investigating ownership of companies dealing in this particular trade is a risky venture. He underlined that such an examination requires the investigator to draft a ‘will’ before embarking on the duty.
The speaker of parliament, Annet Anita Among directed the Gender, Labour and Social Development Committee led by Flavia Kabahenda, the Kyegegwa District Woman Representative to liaise with the line Ministry to conduct an in-depth investigation into the ownership of the labour export firms. She ordered the committee to its findings to the House within a short time.
The directive followed the recent death of Lydia Ayila – a resident of Kayunga District in Saudi Arabia. Among’s intervention came after the Kayunga District Woman Member of Parliament, Idah Nantaba brought Ayila’s plight to the attention of Parliament on November 9, 2022.
Nantaba told Parliament that Saudi authorities demanded $3,400 (Ugx13m) to repatriate the deceased’s body or they bury her in a public cemetery. The Ministry of Gender, Labour, and Social Development could only manage to raise $1,000 (about3.7m).
The story moved speaker Among who contributed $2,400 (about Ugx9m) to Ayila’s mother to facilitate the repatriation of her remains.
However, Miriam Mwiza, the Executive Director of Overseas Workers Voice Uganda – OWVU, which advocates for the rights of migrant workers castigated the speaker’s directive towards the Gender, Labour and Social Development Committee to investigate the owners of labour export firms.
Mwiza described the directive to the parliamentary committee as ‘sham.’ She instead pleaded with government to renegotiate better bilateral agreements with the Middle East states to abolish the ‘kafala’ system, which she says gives private citizens and companies total control over migrant workers.
Mwiza revealed to URN that her organisation has been able directly to repatriate 600 migrant workers from the Gulf Countries – including Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates – UAE.
He further revealed that during the same period, the organization also repatriated 54 bodies of Ugandan migrant workers who lost their lives in the Middle East. The latest bodies included that of Sharifah Birungi and Salima Babirye, both of whom were externalized in Saudi Arabia where they died in August 2022.
On his side, Apostle Oyet termed the directive ‘risky’- because most of the companies dealing in the labour export business are owned by ‘big people’ in government or have god-fathers in the line ministry.
ic of human trafficking and labor externalization warned that investigating owners of the labour export companies is a risky venture that requires one to write a ‘complete will’ before embarking on it.
According to the External Employment Management Information System – EEMIS data provided by the Ministry of Gender, Labour, and Social Development, there are over 900 firms licenced to undertake external recruitments business.
In 2021 government through the line Ministries of Internal Affairs and Gender, Labour and Social Development suspended at least 20 external labour recruitment agencies, citing multiple faults but the same companies have since resumed operations, according to sources.
In the same year, the Uganda Human Rights Commission – UHRC reported that cases of mistreatment or abuse of Ugandan migrant workers doubled to 421 from 214 the previous year. The report faulted users of unregistered or fraudulent entities and job opportunities to trick their victims.
Original report by URN