By Jolly Gwari

Government wants bank and personal details for all Ugandans working abroad. The number of people who migrate to the Middle East and other Gulf states for work increases every day.  However, there are limitless tales of violence.  Some people especially maids are found with serious injuries from their employers, some lose their body parts, some return in coffins, and others face poor working conditions.  In addition, so many employees complain that they are paid less and also given different jobs contradicting with what they agreed on in their contracts. Therefore, the government through the ministry of gender, labor, and social development has directed all external labor recruitment companies, to submit bank and personal details of Ugandans taken abroad through the respective companies.

Notably, a letter issued by the Permanent Secretary Pius Bigirimana gave the companies until June 10 to submit lists of employees working in each agency as well as bank statements for the previous financial years. Bigirmana said Uganda Revenue Authority [URA] had requested a list of employees working in each agency and bank statements. Particularly, “the purpose of this letter, therefore, is to request you to submit the information requested for through Uganda Association of External Recruitment Agencies [UAERA] by June 10, 2019” he said.

The ministry communication manager, Frank Mugabi confirmed that the purpose of this move process is to ensure employers are paying their workers as agreed. “It’s integrated within the MIS system and used to ensure that employers are paying their workers. We want to ensure payment is in time and agreed on the amount,’ he said. Fortunately, the ministry is aware that some labor export companies are conniving with employers abroad to persuade Ugandans into working for jobs that were never agreed to, and as well pay them money which is lesser than the agreed amount.

However, the players in the labor export industry have questioned the move. Critics have questioned the government’s motives in asking for bank statements.Many said that the export of labor was regulated through well-established laws like the Employment (Recruitment of Ugandan Migrant workers abroad Regulations Statutory Instrument number 62 of 2005 which does not mention anywhere that the firms have to submit their bank statements.

Some  said  that such a move would run counter to the Bank of Uganda Final Consumer Protection Guidelines 2011under guideline 7(3)(a) which provides for safeguarding consumer information, saying that the move would tantamount to invasion of privacy by government. “The Constitution of the Republic of Uganda Article 27 explicitly recognizes the right to privacy and calls for its protection. Privacy is a fundamental human right enshrined in numerous international human rights instruments such as Article 12 of Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It is central to the protection of human dignity and forms the basis of any democratic society. It also supports and reinforces other rights such as freedom of expression, information and association,” they said.

Although, the ministry of Gender Labor and Social Development cited “vicious abuse of procedures” and “collusion in the ministry” following reports that some officials connive with external labor exporters to illegally clear underage girls to work as maids in Arab countries.

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