Wednesday 5 July 2017
Welcome to the summary of Day Two of the Modern Slavery Africa Regional Workshop. The second day of the workshops allowed delegates to explore the legislative landscape of the region as well as how, as parliamentarians, they could have an impact. The workshop remained under Chatham House Rule.
Mapping the legislative landscape
The opening session laid out the current modern slavery-related legislation in the jurisdictions represented at the workshop. Recent changes to legislation, as well as ongoing work to combat modern slavery was highlighted. Evident themes across the region, drawing on evidence from the Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report, included growing issues related to child trafficking and a lack of training and enforcement.
Following on from this, delegates split into small groups to discuss in greater detail the developments and challenges with regards to addressing modern slavery issues in their countries. The discussions brought up concerns around funding and resources, as well as porous borders, corrupt officials and party divisions.
The role of parliamentarians
Next, the workshop honed in on the specific roles of parliamentarians with regards to modern slavery. The session was an opportunity for open and frank conversations about what part parliamentarians can play in stopping human trafficking and exploitation.
The discussions touched on the role parliamentarians can play in raising awareness of exploitation issues in their constituencies. Because parliamentarians have a greater reach than many international NGOs and campaign initiatives, they can have a profound impact on raising awareness around the dangers of trafficking and how to spot signs of modern slavery. In addition, delegates discussed problems with implementation of laws and explored the introduction of mechanisms that test modern slavery legislation from inception to implementation to revision.
The final session of the morning then explored the importance of parliamentarians partnering with other organisations and individuals in the fight against modern slavery. With representatives from civil society organisations, law enforcement and the judiciary, the session created a platform for the delegates to explore how these groups could support them in their efforts to legislate and raise awareness around modern slavery issues. It was noted that partners can provide knowledge, expertise and research that may aid MPs in promoting human rights and dignity.
Presentation of the Bulumu Centre
The Bulumu Centre, which is a refuge for girls taken out of modern slavery and life on the street in Uganda, shared with delegates in the afternoon about its work and the challenges they face. The presentation - which included testimonies, as well as song and dance performances from child victims of modern slavery - highlighted the factors that lead to enslavement of children.
The breakdown of the family was one issue explored in addition to the cycle of poverty in which children can become trapped, unable to escape due to stigma and a lack of training or education.
Delegates also heard from a representative of the Uganda Christian Lawyer’s Fraternity and the Uganda Police Force, who further emphasised the important role of working alongside the judiciary and law enforcement, as well as the practical challenges to effectively combating modern slavery.
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