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Women sue Uganda govt over Iraq slavery

Discussion in 'Jukwaa la Sheria (The Law Forum)' started by ByaseL, Apr 4, 2011.

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    ByaseL JF-Expert Member

    Apr 4, 2011
    Joined: Nov 22, 2007
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    By Andante Okanya
    and Cyprian Musoke

    New Vision

    THREE government institutions and a recruitment firm have been dragged to the High Court in Kampala over claims that 150 Ugandan women are working as sex slaves in Iraq.

    The complaint was filed by five Ugandan women who claim to have been duped into going to Iraq but later escaped from their exploitative “employers”.

    The plaintiffs, identified as V, W, X, Y, and Z to protect their identities, want the Attorney General, Inspector General of Police, Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) and the Uganda Veterans Developments Limited (UVDL), a recruitment firm for the Iraqi workers, to be the respondents.

    The five women say between 2008 and 2010, recruiting and exporting agency UVDL enlisted over 150 women to work in various sectors in Iraq, Jordan, Dubai and Afghanistan. The agency is located in Muyenga, an upscale city suburb.

    They assert that the Government through the labour ministry failed to perform “its supervisory role on labour export agencies”, which resulted in UVDL’s abuse of its licence by trafficking them and other women into slavery.

    The five have sworn affidavits in support of the application, contending that the respondents were aware of their (the workers in Iraq) plight but “ignored or failed to act on the information to arrest the situation”.

    The Director of the Criminal Investigation Department, Edward Ochom, yesterday said recruitment firms have an obligation to follow up on their clients and see how they are doing.

    “Companies should keep a roll-call of their recruits and their conditions. Have they been getting this feedback and reporting it to the authorities? What if somebody they recruited dies from there?” he asked.

    Ochom advised the aggrieved parties to first ascertain whether their communication reached the IGP and no action was taken, before they can sue.
    The DPP, Richard Butera, yesterday said he had only read about the information in the papers, but had not yet been formally served notice.

    He, however, said it was the Attorney General’s office that would play a primary role in such circumstances.

    According to complainant V, she was among a group of 10 that was enlisted in October 2008 by the recruiting agency.

    She claims they were asked to pay sh2m for the air ticket, medical examination, application and registration fees, which they did.

    The petitioners assert that having fulfilled the pre-requisite conditions, they were notified that they would work as teachers or salespersons in American supermarkets

    But that on arrival in the Iraqi capital of Baghdad, a man called Abu Sami introduced them to couples with children. They said the couples seemed to have anticipated their arrival as maids.

    She said they later protested with pleas that they had particular professions but Sami did not relent, and asked for $3,500 from each of them, claiming he had bought them from the recruiting agency.
    The petitioners said they later reluctantly succumbed, but were mistreated by their employers.

    According to court documents, an operation led by Lt. Col. Theodore Lockwood from the American base in Iraq, secured their freedom.

    Subsequently, court action was sought and Sami, together with one of the employers who had raped and impregnated one of the women, was imprisoned.

    The women are seeking a court declaration that the IGP’s failure to secure their repatriation, despite being informed of their plight, breached Police’s constitutional duty as stipulated in Article 212 of the Constitution.

    They are also seeking a court declaration that the DPP’s failure to prosecute the directors of the recruiting firm is a breach of his mandate as enshrined in Article 120 of the Constitution.

    They also want payment for damages from the Government, as well as rehabilitation and resettlement.

    The respondents are yet to be summoned to file their defence. Court is yet to fix a date for the hearing.