Export of labour in Uganda is regulated by the Employment (Recruitment of Ugandan Migrant workers abroad Regulations Statutory Instrument number 62 of 2005 which does not explicitly mention that thelabour export companies are required to submit bank statements.
The Bank of Uganda Final Consumer Protection Guidelines 2011under guideline 7(3)(a) which provides for safeguarding consumer information and precludes financial service providers from disclosing information about a consumer to a third party except where the financial service provider is compelled by law to disclose the information or where the disclosure is made with express consent of the consumer.
A bank statement falls within the definition of data which is defined under the Data Protection and Privacy Act to mean “information that is processed by means of equipment operating automatically in response to instructions given for that purpose.
Section 10 of the Data Protection and Privacy Act provides for protection of privacy and states that a data collector, data processor or data controller shall not collect, hold or process personal data in a manner which infringes on the privacy of a data subject.
The Constitution of Republic of Uganda Article 27 explicitly recognizes the right to privacyand 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.
Therefore it goes against the principles of data protection as provided for under Section 3 of the Data Protection and Privacy Act which seeks to protect the privacy of the individual and personal data. It is also against the rights of labour export companies as persons whose data is collected.
I accordingly advise the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development to cite the relevant law under which they are operating to demand for bank statements. Its demand which restricts the right to privacy can only be justified when it is prescribed by law or intends to achieve a legitimate aim.
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