Let’s “join hands” to Address Human Trafficking in Uganda: Bishops’ Conference Chairman

Credit: UEC

The dynamics around the “heinous crime” of human trafficking in Uganda cannot be addressed by a single entity, the Chairman of Uganda Episcopal Conference (UEC), Bishop Joseph Antony Zziwa, has said.

In his September 9 keynote address on the occasion of the National Prayer on Human Trafficking at Kololo Independence grounds in Uganda’s Kampala Archdiocese, Bishop Zziwa condemned the practice of human trafficking describing it as an “evil trade”. 

“Given the complexity of this evil trade, no single individual, organization, nor government can overcome the human trafficking that deprives our brothers and sisters their dignity and freedom,” UEC Chairman said in his message that Archbishop John Baptist Odama of Uganda’s Gulu Archdiocese read out. 

The Local Ordinary of Uganda’s Kiyinda–Mityana Diocese underscored the need for synergies in tacking the challenge of human trafficking, saying, “We should, therefore, join hands in the struggle against this evil at all levels of our society; starting from the individual, family, local, national and the international.”

The Ugandan Bishop acknowledged with appreciation the National Prayer initiative as an event that seeks to encourage not only the government but also religious leaders and other groups to unanimously take an action against “the horror of human trafficking”.


“There is no true religious leader who would fail to denounce the horror of human trafficking taking place in our country, affecting our people and undermining their dignity and rights,” Bishop Zziwa said.

The National Prayer event also seeks “to appeal for the conversion of the perpetrators involved in this heinous crime,” the 66-year-old Catholic Bishop said in reference to human trafficking.

Focusing his attention on Uganda, Bishop Zziwa regretted the fact “we have not fared so well against this scourge. Children as young as seven years are exploited in forced labor, mining, begging, herding, and agriculture. Girls and boys are also exploited in prostitution.”

“Young girls and women are targeted for domestic sex trafficking,” the Catholic Bishop who started his Episcopal Ministry in March 2002 as Coadjutor Bishop of Kiyinda–Mityana Diocese said, and added, “Most victims of internal trafficking are Ugandans.”

In Uganda, he continued, “Young boys and girls are the most vulnerable to internal trafficking while young women are more vulnerable to transnational trafficking, usually seeking employment as domestic workers in the Middle East and other countries.”

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“It is a tragedy that in this century, notwithstanding the progress in human development and civilization, human beings still use and exchange their fellow humans for monetary gains through organ harvesting, cheap labor, sexual exploitation as if they were chattels to be bought and paid for,” the Chairman of UEC lamented. 

He said that the cruelty associated with human trafficking is tantamount to the “old form of slavery”, which he termed as “dehumanizing”.

“The victim is manipulated to think that life is better on the other side but once let into the power and control of the trafficker, the victim has no choice, but to surrender to the dictates of the master or mistress,” Bishop Zziwa said in his September 9 message that Archbishop Odama read out.

He likened human traffickers to the siblings of Joseph in book of Genesis, saying victims of human traffickers are, “in most cases”, known to their victims.

“These victims are our brothers and sisters whom we know and do not know,” the Bishop who has been at the helm of Kiyinda–Mityana Diocese since October 2004 said, and added, “Moreover, in most cases the traffickers are people who are known to the victims: relatives, friends or associates.”


In his September 9 message, Bishop Zziwa identified “the idolatry of wealth and riches” as a factor in human trafficking. He said, “There is no doubt that the idolatry of wealth and riches significantly contribute to this inhuman trade which attracts huge sums of illicit profits.”

He added, “This is further complicated by the rampant unemployment, poverty and our education system which produces job seekers instead of job creators.”

He continued, “Our young ones, who are, in constant search for opportunities to work abroad and in the urban cities sometimes end up satisfying the demand for body organs, demand for cheap labour, and demand for commercial sexual services.”

The Chairman of UEC underlined the need for “all duty bearers” in the East African country to address the underlying causes of human trafficking “to curb the high level of vulnerability among the citizens.”

In his video message that was published on February 8, Pope Francis said that the suffering caused by human trafficking is “an open wound on the body of Christ”.

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“Human trafficking is violence. The violence suffered by every woman and every girl is an open wound on the body of Christ, on the body of all humanity; it is a deep wound that affects every one of us too,” the Holy Father said.

In the video message, Pope Francis condemned both the human trafficking of laborers and sex trafficking, which he said relegates women and girls to “dispensers of pleasure” and “proposes yet again a model of relationships marked by the power of the male gender over the female.”

Silas Mwale Isenjia is a Kenyan journalist with a great zeal and interest for Catholic Church related communication. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Linguistics, Media and Communication from Moi University in Kenya. Silas has vast experience in the Media production industry. He currently works as a Journalist for ACI Africa.