Statement by the State Minister for Gender on Externalisation of Labour
Hon. Mutuuzo Peace Minister of Gender while addressing Parliament on the 18th of July 2019 on the externalisation of labour told the house that, migration was as old as the history of mankind and all humans are products of some form of migration. She said that Ugandans’ had since the pre-independence period travelled abroad for work, some travelling on their own, while others were facilitated by traffickers’.
The Minister noted that the government had taken cognisance of risks associated with individuals’ being placed abroad by traffickers’. However, the government was also aware that people could not be forcibly stopped from seeking work abroad more so because of Article 29 (2) (b) of the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda which provides that every Ugandan shall have the right to enter or leave and return to Uganda.
The minister further observed that the solution to the challenge of traffickers’ was on introducing a safe, orderly, formal and regular pathway to employment abroad. Accordingly, she highlighted that the externalisation of Labour Programme was launched in 2005. She clarified that the programme was not introduced to encourage Ugandans’ to go abroad, but rather to establish an alternative to trafficking for Ugandans’ who had made the choice to seek a livelihood through employment abroad.
The Minister informed the house that among the key benefits that the government had registered on externalisation of labour included; the estimated annual remittances from the migrant workers in the Middle East was about USD 600 million per annum, improvement in incomes of the households of migrant workers, acquisition of new and positive work ethics and skills by Ugandans workers among others.
She told the August House that conscious of the challenges that come along with externalisation of labour, there had been proposals from the different stakeholders that the externalisation of labour programme is banned. She noted that mindful that the Ministry imposed a ban on the Externalisation of domestic labour, on 22nd January 2016, the unintended consequence of the ban was that trafficking thrived. She therefore told the house that they had examined the proposal and the ministry was therefore hesitant to impose a ban.
She assured the house that the Ministry had put mechanisms in place to promote safe labour migration and protection of rights of migrant workers. Among the mechanisms cited by the minister included establishment of an inter-Ministerial Committee chaired by the Minister of Gender, Labour and Social Development with its membership comprising of the Ministers responsible for Security, internal Affairs, Works, Local Government, Foreign Affairs and East African Cooperation, Coordination between Ministry of Gender and other agencies like the Directorate of immigration, internal Security Organization (lSO), and the Police of the Airport has been enhanced.
She cited that three Bilateral Labour Agreements had been signed between the Government of Uganda and the respective Governments of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordon and the United Arab Emirates. Negotiations for a Bilateral Agreement with Qatar were concluded. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs was using diplomatic channels to secure a date for signing. Draft agreements had also been drawn and presented to the Governments of Oman and Kuwait and more importantly Cooperation against human trafficking had been strengthened among members of the East African Community.