The Ugandan Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development is investigating judicial officers, probation officers, orphanages and passport control officials who have been implicated in the trade of children's organs, as well as selling children into sexual slavery and forced labour.
The Daily Monitor reported Mr Fred Onduri-Machulu, the Commissioner for Youth and Children Affairs as stating:
"[vulnerable children are] lured into so-called orphanages and child-homes which later turn out to be holding centres before they are trafficked to countries like India, China and the United States of America, where their internal organs are harvested and sold while those who are rejected are subjected to child labour and sex slavery."
Uganda has faced significant scrutiny over the exploitation of children, most notably in relation to the use of child soldiers by the LRA, led by Joseph Kony. But this story does not refer to the actions of a rebel group, but to the actions of state actors responsible for the protection of vulnerable children.
The dire condition of Uganda's juvenile detention centres and the exploitation of children detained within those institutions has been heavily criticised. PLA uncovered the abuse of one child detained in a Ugandan remand home, who was buried alive by a police officer.
The extent of the allegations levied by the Ministry of Gender exposes an increasingly menacing picture, indicating systemic, organised abuse across a multitude of state bodies. The risk of children being subjected to institutional abuse in Uganda has contributed to calls for juvenile justice diversion schemes, which advocate alternatives to detention for children in conflict with the law.
The Ministry of Gender is now working closely with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the embassies of countries implicated to trace the children and conduct further investigations.
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