• The unit, according to DPP Noordin Haji, will ensure the rising cases of human trafficking are handled by specialised prosecutors and at a faster rate.
• The Labour ministry has since 2018 rescued over 1,500 victims of trafficking and secured 61 convictions.
The Judiciary has been asked to establish a special unit to deal with human trafficking, sexual and gender-based violence cases.
The unit, according to Director of Public Prosecutions Noordin Haji, will ensure the rising cases of human trafficking are handled by specialised prosecutors and at a faster rate.
On Thursday, Haji released data showing that his office had since last year registered 174 trafficking in persons cases and secured 73 convictions, a 42 per cent success rate.
The DPP also wants the government to set up shelters and safe houses for trafficking victims and provide long-term support for them.
“We face a challenge in the lack of shelters for the victims of trafficking which are currently few and with limited capacity. So far, Makueni is the only county having a government facility,” Haji said.
Most victims are held in cells and at times prisons. There are also DCI Child Protection and Anti-Trafficking Unit centres in Nairobi and Mombasa.
Globally, people are trafficked for sexual exploitation, forced labour, forced begging and forced marriages. Some children are sold and others exploited as (child) soldiers.
Some people, especially women and young girls, are trafficked for extraction of organs.
In Kenya, the most prevalent forms of trafficking are forced labour and sexual exploitation.
Covid-19 is exacerbating the situation, according to Labour Cabinet Secretary Simon Chelugui.
Chelugui says the pandemic has made the work of frontline workers hard as it has become difficult to identify, screen and rescue the victims. It is also difficult for the workers to protect themselves from the virus.
“Due to the current job losses, there is also an increase in the number of people falling below the poverty line, hence becoming more vulnerable to trafficking,” the CS said.
Another concern is that some of the measures introduced to contain the spread of the Covid-19 are exposing victims of trafficking to further exploitation.
“Some of these measures have led to limited access to services as most victim assistance programmes 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,” Chelugui said.
Child sexual exploitation has also increased due to online activities. Traffickers are increasingly using the internet to enrol young people.
The Labour ministry has since 2018 rescued over 1,500 victims of trafficking and secured 61 convictions. The victims are of various nationalities.
To reduce vulnerability to trafficking, the government has introduced various programmes, among them the Inua Jamii cash transfer programme targeting older persons, orphans, vulnerable children and persons with severe disability.
- mwaniki fm