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January 18, 2019

Human trafficking cases burdening state prosecutor

Attorney General Githu Muigai.
Attorney General Githu Muigai.

The Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions is facing a serious hurdle with prosecuting crimes of human trafficking because of inadequately trained officers.

Secretary of Public Prosecutions Dorcas Oduor yesterday said the delay between the initial report to reporting to the police station compromises the integrity of the probe and in the process, crucial evidence is lost or tampered with.

She said successful prosecution and punishment of perpetrators require a proper and thorough investigation. But the investigations undertaken are often limited to proving individual and less complex offences rather than human trafficking, Oduor added.

She said many officers assigned to investigate the cases do not have specialised training and skills to do so and most often they do not have the basic tools to carry out complete investigations.

“Just like investigations, prosecution of human trafficking and international organised crimes require specialised training, skills and expertise. Where this is lacking, cases may be lost due to poorly drafted charges, inefficient presentation of evidence or submissions made by prosecutors,” Oduor said.

He spoke during a seminar on scaling up the fight against human trafficking, smuggling and international organised crimes. It was organised by the Conference of Western Attorneys General (CWAG) USA and the Office of the Attorney General and Department of Justice.

Frequent forms of exploitation in Kenya include sexual exploitation, forced labour, forced begging, early marriage, removal of body parts for witchcraft and child adoption.

But most victims and survivors would rather suffer in silence because they do not trust or have confidence in law enforcement and the judicial systems.

Oduor said the trauma faced by victims, fear of stigmatisation and lack of awareness that the acts committed on them are crimes of a grave nature have caused a serious challenge to them.

However, the office of the DPP, Attorney General and the Judicial system will soon be launching an International Crimes Division at the High Court, which will bring all these cases under one roof.

The specialised unit will have the authority to try and punish cases of sexual and gender-based violence, war crimes, genocide, crimes against humanity, and human trafficking.

Attorney General Githu Muigai (pictured) said Kenya has entered into agreements with other nations to provide assistance in fighting transnational organised crimes.

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