The international crimes division of the High court has handed down a seven-year prison sentence to Amid Hassan and Jamil Muhammed Alaru after finding them guilty of aggravated child trafficking.
This decision follows a plea bargain agreement reached between the accused and the prosecution, represented by state attorney Joseph Kyomuhendo.
According to court records, Amid and Alaru, alongside Robert Kakanyero, Onen Chan Denis, Abdullah Rahaman Kizito, and others who are still at large, were involved in child trafficking between December 2018 and February 2019. They operated between Purongo village in Nwoya and Mpondwe Kasese districts, deceiving or exploiting vulnerable positions to recruit 13 children aged four months to 12 years for exploitation purposes.
The accused persons were apprehended at the border attempting to cross into the neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) on motorcycles with the children. When asked for travel and identification documents, none of them could provide any, except for Amid, who claimed to have left the victims' documents elsewhere. They were unable to provide a credible account of their journey or the children's situation.
The prosecution argued that all the convicts were part of a network involved in trafficking children to the DRC for recruitment into the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), a terrorist group with the aim of overthrowing the democratically elected government of Uganda and establishing an Islamic state.
"The victims were to be brainwashed, radicalized into embracing the ADF ideologies through both military training and extremist Islamic teachings and they would later be deployed to fight against the government or attack the surrounding communities”, reads the case.
Investigations revealed that the accused had misled the LCI chairpersons of the victims' respective areas, falsely claiming that the children were going for Islamic studies.
“The LCI chairperson acted on the given information and issued recommendation letters to that effect,” reads the case file.
The accused individuals shared a common purpose: recruiting children into ADF and involving them in armed conflicts and illegal activities.