In 2011, I handled the first international human trafficking case and my eyes were opened to the vice. Young productive girls were being hood winked and trafficked to the Middle East and China for prostitution!

They were beaten, raped and tortured in non-imaginable ways. Once again, I became aware of the “seemingly official” channels of engaging youth as labour export to the Arab world. Over the years, Uganda has placed a moratorium on the recruitment of domestic help in the Arab World. This has not deterred the human trafficking for purposes of domestic work. Increasingly girls have been exported and some have been tortured to death! HUMAN TRAFFICKING was happening right under our nose! I knew that this was my call, I needed to step in and do something about it.

I joined hands with some NGOs to discuss the matter. What could be done? What resources were available? This is injustice needed to STOP! We then met with the Speaker of the Parliament of Uganda as an Advocacy Group.

Due to commitment to my work as a Judge in the High Court of Uganda, I was limited in time and resources to spearhead change in this paradigm. However, this started me on a path to pursue an understanding on victims. A glaring gap existed in the laws pertaining to victims and witnesses! What could be done to bridge this gap? The Witness Protection Bill and the Transitional Justice Policy are still in the offing. How could we fill the void in the interim and what needed to be done so that they could be passed faster? Witnesses needed protection and Victims needed reparation.

To whom much is given much is expected!

When I retired from the High Court of Uganda, I was in a position to pursue my passion of breaking the silence for marginalized groups of people , particularly, victims of post war conflict, sexual and gender based violence, human trafficking and refugees. I had first hand experience in interacting with several victims and I understood their predicament. In addition to my experience, I had a research background. Thus equipped with these two, I was able to dig deeper into emerging issues. I also had the advantage of having contacts of some policy makers and was able to access both local and international policy and decision makers as well as organisations with expertise in the various fields. That’s how Emerging Solutions Africa was birthed!

It is my desire that we can work together to give hope to these people who have for various reasons beyond their control have ended up becoming victims of difficult situations.

Elizabeth Ibanda-Nahamya

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