HUMAN TRAFFICKING

State mulls reviewing anti-trafficking laws to curb crime

In Summary

• The CS said the most prevalent internal trafficking in persons involves child trafficking from rural areas to urban areas for exploitation as domestic workers.

•For instance, the CS said from July 2019 to date, 612 cases of child labour have been reported on the Child Protection Information Management System (CPIMS).

A file photo of a human trafficking suspect seized at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport..
NABBED: A file photo of a human trafficking suspect seized at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport..
Image: FILE

The state has announced a plan to review existing anti-trafficking laws amid efforts to curb rising cases of human trafficking.

Labour and Social Protection CS Simon Chelugui on Thursday said the review aims at ensuring Kenya has a strong, comprehensive and robust anti-trafficking law that will effectively deal with human trafficking.

Chelugui was speaking during the commemoration of the World Day Against Trafficking in Persons.

“As a country, we have been implementing the Counter-Trafficking in Person (CTiP) Act since 2012. However, to move to the next level, My Ministry is committed to review the Act to align it to the Constitution and also to address the new dimensions in Trafficking in Persons,’ Chelugui said.

The CS said the review of the Act is one of his Performance Contract targets in this financial year.

“Besides having a robust anti-trafficking law, the other pillar in countering trafficking in persons is the protection of victims. We have identified the need to establish a Government-run shelter for victims of trafficking rather than the current situation where most victims of counter-trafficking are held in cells and even at times Prisons,” he said.

Chelugui said Kenya has been identified as a source, transit and destination country for cross border trafficking though major strides towards curbing the vice.

This, he said, is in accordance with the globally agreed-upon action plan parameters of Prevention, Protection, Prosecution and Partnerships.

In 2019, some 275 people were reported to have been trafficked through the country.

The CS said the most prevalent internal trafficking in persons involves child trafficking from rural areas to urban areas for exploitation as domestic workers.

For instance, the CS said from July 2019 to date, 612 cases of child labour have been reported on the Child Protection Information Management System (CPIMS).

Globally, people are trafficked for sexual exploitation, forced labour, forced begging, forced marriage, child sale and child soldiers, removal of organs, and other forms of exploitation and abuse.

Unfortunately, women at 49 per cent and girls at 23 per cent rank highest among all victims of trafficking.

In Kenya, the most prevalent forms of trafficking are labour and sexual exploitation.

Chelugui said from 2018 to date, his ministry has rescued over 1,500 victims of trafficking of various nationalities besides managing to get 61 convictions with numerous other cases going on in various courts in the country.

“The ministry has been vetting all local private employment recruitment agencies by an inter-ministerial committee to make sure that any Kenyan going to work in the foreign market does so within the law and is well protected,” he said.

 He said the US Trafficking in Persons Annual Report which ranks countries into four tiers has ranked Kenya in Tier 2, meaning that though the country has done a lot to counter trafficking in persons, there are still pending issues to deal with.

Chelugui said this year’s commemoration is marked under extraordinary circumstances following the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic.

He said to curb the spread of Covid-19, the government introduced a raft of measures, which has significantly reduced the spread but has also led to the unintended consequence of job losses.  

“Due to these job losses, there is an increase in the number of people falling below the poverty line and hence increasing their vulnerability to trafficking,” he said.

Chelugui said some of the measures introduced to contain the spread of the Covid-19 are exposing victims of trafficking to further exploitation especially because some of these measures have led to limited access to services as most victim assistance programs have scaled-down operations.

“For example, identification of victims, which is difficult under normal circumstances, has become even harder in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic. There has also been reported an increase in child sexual exploitation which is one form of trafficking,” he said.

The CS said the increase in online activities especially among young people has further increased their vulnerability to online recruitment.

“Due to the cessation of air travel, we have noticed that some victims who had been identified for repatriation back to their countries cannot travel. Similarly, we are noticing the worrying return of people begging on the streets, especially children which increase their vulnerability to both internal and cross-border trafficking,” Chelugui said.