Category: Protection


Collaborative Efforts to Combat Human Trafficking: Insights from the 2023 U.S TIP Report

In June, the Coalition Against Trafficking in Persons-Uganda (CATIP-U) partnered with the Human Trafficking Institute to host a knowledge-sharing session and exchange. This online session was centred around the release of the 2023 U.S. Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report, a key annual publication that sheds light on the state of human trafficking across the globe. The session aimed to deepen Ugandan stakeholder’s understanding of Uganda’s position in the fight against trafficking and chart a path forward for collective action.

For over two decades, the U.S. TIP Report has been an essential tool in the arsenal of anti-trafficking advocates worldwide. It provides a comprehensive overview of human trafficking, ranking countries through a tier system based on their anti-trafficking efforts. This system not only serves as a benchmark for nations to measure their progress but also offers a framework for enhancing responses to human trafficking. The 2023 report, like its predecessors, plays a pivotal role in informed decision-making, coordination among stakeholders, and identifying growth opportunities.

Despite the immense challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, Uganda retained its Tier 2 status in the 2023 U.S. TIP Report, a testament to its unwavering commitment to combating human trafficking. This achievement underscores Uganda’s resilience and dedication to improving its standing in the global fight against trafficking.

The 2023 U.S. TIP Report lauded Uganda for several noteworthy achievements in its anti-trafficking efforts, including:

  1. Record-breaking trafficker convictions in a single year, marking a significant milestone in the region’s fight against trafficking.
  2. A remarkable increase in human trafficking prosecutions, demonstrating an escalated enforcement drive.
  3. Strengthened training initiatives for government officials and community leaders, fostering improved coordination.
  4. The creation of child-friendly interview rooms and the introduction of anonymous victim testimony, prioritizing victim rights and confidentiality.
  5. The pioneering establishment of District Task Forces for tracking persons, promoting a collaborative approach.
  6. Inauguration of a 24-hour toll-free hotline for reporting trafficking incidents, encouraging citizen engagement in the fight against trafficking.

The 2023 report’s recommendations provided a blueprint for actionable steps to further enhance Uganda’s anti-trafficking efforts. These recommendations included:

  1. Expanding the availability of shelters, housing, and specialised services for trafficking victims.
  2. Enacting victim witness assistance legislation and implementing comprehensive assistance programmes.
  3. Strengthening protective measures for Ugandan trafficking victims exploited abroad.
  4. Deepening the partnership between law enforcement and prosecutors to expedite judicial proceedings and enhance evidence gathering.
  5. Bolstering efforts to investigate and prosecute alleged traffickers, with a focus on just penalties
  6. Systematic victim identification through the implementation of referral guidelines
  7. Rigorous oversight and regulation of labour recruitment entities
  8. Approving the establishment of an anti-trafficking department within the national police force, underpinned by sufficient funding
  9. Ratifying the 2000 Human Trafficking in Persons Protocol, showcasing commitment to global anti-trafficking initiatives

The knowledge-sharing session witnessed active participation from a diverse group of stakeholders, all of whom offered thoughtful reactions to the report and its recommendations. Attendees appreciated the strides made and insights gained while also acknowledging areas that require intensified efforts. The discussions highlighted the importance of sensitization, support for single mothers, victim and witness protection, and collaboration between government and civil society.

In response to the session’s deliberations, attendees collectively emphasised the importance of translating dialogues into actionable strategies. Key areas of focus included: Engaging the government for financial support towards shelters and victim services, Advocating for the enactment of witness protection legislation, Promoting the ratification of relevant anti-trafficking protocols and Advocacy for enhanced victim services.

During the session, various participants contributed valuable insights and perspectives on the recommendations outlined in the 2023 U.S. Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report and the strategies needed to move forward. Their thoughtful remarks further enriched the discussion and reinforced the collaborative approach to combating human trafficking in Uganda.

  1. Engaging with Recommendations: Several participants expressed enthusiasm for the recommendations put forth in the report. They highlighted the alignment between the report’s suggestions and their aspirations for Uganda’s anti-trafficking efforts. They appreciated the focus on adult male shelters and acknowledged the existing gap in this area. This acknowledgement was seen as a growth opportunity for the country. Attendees encouraged each other to harness the recommendations to shape their collective work and amplify their efforts.
  2. Government Support and Funding: There was a consensus on the importance of government involvement and financial support for anti-trafficking initiatives. The participants recognised the challenges posed by the current budget allocation for combating trafficking. They collectively emphasised the need to secure more substantial government funding for shelters and victim support services. They acknowledged that this financial commitment would be instrumental in advancing Uganda’s Tier 1 ranking aspirations.
  3. Witness Protection Legislation and Shelters: The discussions gravitated towards the significance of witness protection legislation, a vital aspect that influences the provision of shelters and victim assistance. Participants emphasised that such legislation could offer a holistic approach to both shelter and protection needs, serving as a comprehensive framework. The sentiment was that the witness protection bill, already recognised by the Ugandan government, could potentially address these concerns if properly enacted.
  4. Collective Advocacy and Strategy: To effectively drive change, the participants underscored the necessity of a collective strategy. They considered engaging key government figures, like the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, as an avenue for initiating discussions around funding shelters and victim support. Furthermore, there was a proposal to involve the Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, or other pertinent ministries, to facilitate discussions around reintroducing and advancing the witness protection bill. Attendees encouraged collaborative dialogue and emphasised the importance of persuasively presenting the financial implications and societal benefits of these efforts to gain government support.

The insights shared during the knowledge-sharing session highlighted the collaborative spirit and determination of diverse stakeholders in Uganda’s anti-trafficking endeavors. The participants’ dedication to transforming recommendations into actionable strategies reflected their commitment to creating a safer environment for Ugandans vulnerable to trafficking. By joining forces and harnessing government support, Uganda can pave the way towards achieving Tier 1 status and strengthening its position in the global fight against human trafficking. The session showcased the power of uniting various stakeholders around a common cause and creating a roadmap for meaningful change. Together, they are forging a brighter future, free from the scourge.



By: Jennifer Racheal Alum, Assistant Program Director – Willow International

In the month of October, Willow International had the privilege of witnessing the heartwarming arrival of bundles of joy, heralding the birth of new lives into this world. Within the nurturing walls of our residential care, five courageous survivors of trafficking and sexual exploitation, who had endured unimaginable hardships, defied the odds and brought forth five healthy babies. Remarkably, the youngest mother among them was just 13 years old.

The journey leading up to this moment was fraught with uncertainties, both for these young mothers and for Willow International. We wondered if these brave souls would be able to embrace their newborns, let alone nourish them through breastfeeding. However, what unfolded before our eyes was a testament to the incredible strength and resilience of these young mothers. With unwavering courage, they lovingly cradled their babies, embracing them with an intensity that only a mother’s love can provide. They fearlessly undertook the sacred act of breastfeeding, embodying the spirit of bravery and determination that defines the core values of Willow International.

At Willow International, we firmly believe that courage is one of the pillars that upholds our mission. Witnessing these young mothers step into their maternal roles with such passion and commitment reaffirmed our belief in the indomitable spirit of the human heart. Their willingness to nurture their babies and provide them with the sustenance they needed demonstrated their extraordinary capacity for love and resilience.

The journey towards healing and recovery for survivors of trafficking and exploitation is a complex and multifaceted one. In the face of unimaginable trauma, it is remarkable to witness the transformation that occurs when these survivors find solace in the embrace of motherhood. The arrival of these precious babies marked a significant milestone not just for the young mothers, but for Willow International as an organization dedicated to empowering survivors and helping them rebuild their lives.

As we reflect on the awe-inspiring journey of these courageous young mothers, we are reminded of the power of support, compassion, and community. Willow International is committed to providing a safe and nurturing environment where survivors can heal, grow, and find the strength to face the challenges ahead. We celebrate the bravery of these young mothers and pledge our unwavering support as they navigate the path of motherhood, ensuring that their babies have the best possible start in life.

The arrival of these five healthy babies serves as a beacon of hope, reminding us that even in the darkest of circumstances, light can prevail. It is a testament to the resilience of the human spirit and the transformative power of love. Willow International will continue to champion the rights of survivors, advocate for their healing, and create a world where every individual is free from the shackles of exploitation.

Together, let us stand in awe of these young mothers and their newborns, acknowledging their unwavering courage and the profound impact they have made in our lives. Let their stories inspire us to work tirelessly towards a future where no individual suffers the horrors of trafficking, and every child is nurtured in an environment of love, protection, and opportunity