The International Crimes Division of the High Court has confirmed charges of aggravated trafficking in children against Alex Agaba, a businessman.
The court presided over by Justice Dr. Andrew Bashaija confirmed the charges after finding that the prosecution led by Joseph Kyomuhendo had proved all the essential ingredients in the case.
According to the prosecution, the accused, on January 15th, 2022, in Zzana at around 4 pm received and harbored the victim at his premises promising to employ her in a bar that he had planned to open. The prosecution adds that the accused used the victim for purposes of sexual exploitation contrary to the Prevention of Trafficking in Persons Act, 2009.
The prosecution based its case on the testimony of four witnesses whose statements are on record and will testify to prove the allegations.
In cases of aggravated trafficking of children, the prosecution is required to support the charges with sufficient evidence to establish essential ingredients such as; that the accused received and harbored the victim who was a child, and this was through deception or abuse of power and or abuse of position of vulnerability of the victim, for sexual exploitation and the participation of the accused.
The records before the court indicate that the victim who was from Ntungamo District had escaped from her parent’s home during the COVID-19 lockdown and on three occasions, she worked in different bars, and as a mobile money agent but got misunderstandings with her colleagues. The victim who was a Primary six dropout then returned to the streets.
Agaba through his lawyer Geoffrey Turyamusiima raised objections essentially on the legality of the offence Agaba is charged with. The basis of the objection is that the offense the prosecution is relying on to charge and prosecute the accused is nonexistent in law and therefore the charge sheet was incurably defective.
In his ruling, Justice Bashaija indicated that the prosecution witnesses confirmed that Agaba kept the victim at his place of business and that medical reports show that she was still a child aged 15 years with 28 teeth.
“It is also confirmed that the accused gave the victim the key to the place where he slept. The accused, therefore, tolerated the victim at his premises of work and as well as his home, while he accommodated her in the false hope of employing her as a barmaid in the bar business he was about to open. This evidence substantially establishes the essential ingredient that the accused allowed or tolerated the presence in his dwelling of a minor to facilitate his unlawful intention”, said Bashaija.
Justice Bashaija also ruled that the prosecution has proved the participation of the accused in the crime as well as sexual exploitation against the victim.
Justice Bashaija ordered that Agaba should stand trial before a single judge of the International Crimes Division of the High Court.