Home Investigation Labor Exporters Face Allegations of Illegally Withholding 8,000 Passports

Labor Exporters Face Allegations of Illegally Withholding 8,000 Passports

labor exporters face allegations of illegally withholding 8000 passports
labor exporters face allegations of illegally withholding 8000 passports
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Ugandan labor export companies are facing allegations of unlawfully withholding over 8,000 passports, according to the Directorate of Citizenship and Immigration Control (DCIC).

Simon Peter Mundeyi, the spokesperson for the Ministry of Internal Affairs, reported that they have received complaints, primarily from women, whose passports have been taken by labor export firms. In response to these complaints, secret investigations were conducted, confirming that more than 8,000 passports are being withheld without legal basis by these labor export companies.

The slowdown in the labor export business this year can be attributed to increased reports of Ugandans being exploited, mistreated, and subjected to violence in the Arab world. Some have even suffered the loss of vital internal organs due to the actions of their employers and exporters. Responding to these concerns, Labor Minister Betty Among and Internal Affairs Minister Kahinda Otafiire have intensified scrutiny of labor exporters in Uganda and employers in the Arab world. They have required companies to provide job seekers with proof of contracts and appointment letters for the jobs they are offered.

Additionally, a team has been established in Saudi Arabia to assess the working conditions of each recruitment agency, resulting in delays in the clearance of Ugandan labor exporters due to the absence of necessary safety documents.

Mundeyi warned that some labor exporters, who have been adversely affected by the decline in business, have chosen to retain applicants’ passports. He stated, “We would like to warn these companies that they should return these passports to the owners. We are going to carry out operations to ensure these passports are returned to owners.”

Baker Akantambira, speaking on behalf of the Uganda Association of External Recruitment Agencies (UAERA), acknowledged that companies may have various reasons for withholding passports and emphasized the need for proof in each case. UAERA has faced leadership disputes, leading to the disassociation of many companies from the organization.

One 23-year-old female applicant shared her experience, revealing that she applied for a receptionist job in Saudi Arabia through a labor export company in March but has faced repeated delays in her travel plans. She expressed frustration, as she had already paid for her trip and was still waiting to travel in October. Her passport had also been withheld by the company, and they demanded additional payments.

Mundeyi confirmed that many labor exporters have victimized applicants by charging them multiple times for non-existent jobs in the Arab world. Some women reported being asked to pay money to retrieve their passports, despite having already been charged for the same services.