On October 8, 2021, a Ugandan school administrator was found guilty on all charges of child trafficking and given a life sentence. This is the first case in Uganda in which a convicted defendant of child trafficking has been given a life sentence. The defendant had been the headmaster of a boarding school where he promised scholarships to young boys who he then sexually abused while in his care. The offender often targeted vulnerable children by making false promises to their families about the type of education and care they would receive at the school.
Our team in Uganda became involved in the case in April of 2020 and has been supporting the investigation and prosecution of this offender for the past year. Due to HTI’s unique position working within the Office of the Director of Public Prosecution (ODPP), our team was able to provide technical expertise for the investigation and prosecution of the case, including real-time recommendations to prosecutors as the trial took place. The case was also supported by our partners at International Justice Mission (IJM), who assisted the Uganda Police Force with removing the victims from the school and coordinating follow-up care.
HTI and IJM worked to ensure a safe manner for victims to participate in trial proceedings and advocated for the use of video testimony for the survivors. The children were able to testify remotely so they would not have to be in the same room as their trafficker. The ODPP created a safe, child-friendly space for the children to testify using video technology.
“The inclusion of victim-centered technology in courtrooms is an essential component of an effective human trafficking prosecution,” says Tyler Dunman, HTI’s Special Counsel to the Director of Public Prosecutions. “We were honored to provide prosecution support to the ODPP as they pursued justice for these survivors.”
By enforcing Uganda’s human trafficking laws effectively, fewer children will face the abuse of traffickers and instead, be able to attend safe schools where they can thrive.
The Human Trafficking Institute (HTI) in Uganda provides full-time, embedded support within the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions on matters related to trafficking in persons. The Human Trafficking Institute exists to decimate human trafficking at its source by empowering police and prosecutors to stop traffickers. Working inside criminal justice systems, HTI provides the embedded experts, world-class training, investigative resources, and evidence-based research necessary to free victims.
International Justice Mission is a global organization that protects people in poverty from violence. IJM partners with local authorities in 33 offices across 23 countries to combat slavery, violence against women and children, and other forms of abuse against people who are poor. IJM works to rescue and restore victims, hold perpetrators accountable, and help strengthen public justice systems. Started in 2004, IJM’s office in Uganda works to address cases of violence against women and children, including sexual and intimate partner violence. IJM’s focus is to ensure the well-being of the individuals and families affected by these crimes, the swift conviction of all perpetrators involved, and the strengthening of Uganda’s public justice system to protect people living in poverty from violence.