The Global Human Organs Industry

How much is your body worth? The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists has unearthed the gory details of the lucrative body organs market, where everything, from the cornea in your eye to the bones in your feet and everything in between, is a cash cow for organ gangsters. Cadavers are no longer safe in morgues, and there is every indication that the growing problem of human trafficking could have tentacular links to this macabre business

MWAURA SAMORA Daily Nation 14th August 2012

More than 20,000 people, mostly minors, are trafficked out of or through Kenya to Asia, Europe and other African countries annually, according to the International Organisation for Migration (IOM). And although most studies report that those 20,000 men and women are herded into forced labour and sex camps, chances are that some of them end up in the hands of illicit human organ trade cartels in the West.

A recent series of reports by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), which investigated this illicit trade in eight months and across 11 countries, reveals that the business of harvesting bones, corneas, heart valves, skin and other body parts from cadavers to make medical products is thriving in the world.

The report, for instance, revealed that cadaver bone, harvested from the dead and replaced with PVC piping for burial, is sculpted like pieces of hardwood into screws and anchors for dozens of orthopaedic and dental applications.  In other instances, the bone is ground and mixed with chemicals to produce strong surgical glues — used to attach organs and tissues after surgery — that is said to be better than artificial varieties, while tendons are used to treat injured athletes. Weighing between three to four kilogrammes for an average adult, human skin is one of the most sought-after organs since it has a variety of uses.

“Human skin takes the colour of smoked salmon when it is professionally removed in rectangular shapes from a cadaver,” the ICIJ report says. “After being mashed up to remove moisture, some is destined to protect burn victims from life-threatening bacterial infections or, once refined, for breast reconstructions after cancer.” Other common uses of dead peoples’ body parts include phallus enlargement, breast reconstruction after cancer, smoothing wrinkled faces, cornea transplants, heart valve replacements, bladder slings for incontinence, and bone grafts, among many others.

“In Kenya, the most commonly harvested cadaver parts are corneas, which are used in reconstructive eye surgery,” says Dr Eric Walong, a pathologist based at the University of Nairobi. “These are mostly donations that happen with the consent of the dead person’s family, and there is usually no monetary gain on either side of the deal.” Kenya does not have a defined and cultured organ industry, partly because there are no efficient and reliable emergency services to preserve the bodies and organs in good shape awaiting surgical removal, and partly because cultural beliefs discourage organ harvesting. But that is not to say that we have been spared the ravages of this multi-billion-shilling industry. Chances are that, as families mourn the loss of loved ones, somebody somewhere is celebrating all the way to the bank.

In fact, the report notes, while most European cadavers are from people who died in hospitals, people trafficked from other parts of the world, like Africa, might be killed to obtain vital organs and tissues since the demand is on the rise. That rise in demand has translated into a rise in earnings per harvested cadaver. Ordinary “hustlers” wheeler-dealing with morgues in the United States can make up to $10,000 (Sh82,000) per corpse, and RTI Biologics, a tissue and organ selling multi-national, is said to have raked in $169 million (Sh13.8 billion) in 2011 from harvesting body organs from dead persons. A fully processed disease-free body, with all the organs recovered and applied to the various end uses, can generate between $80,000 (Sh6.56 million) and $200,000 (Sh16.4 million).

A case in point on how global organ trade has become a “blood goldmine” in the last few years is that of Phillip Joe Guyett, arguably America’s largest freelance organ harvester ever nabbed. Bragging of how senior executives from multi-national tissue companies treated him to $400 (Sh32,000) meals and five star hotel stays in order to clinch his services, Guyett writes in his peculiarly named memoirs, Heads, Shoulder, Knees and Bones, of how he started seeing the dead “with dollar signs attached to their body parts”. The party for him, however, ended in 2006, when he was handed a “prolonged jail term” for falsifying death records of his “victims”.

Most of this multi-million dollar “blood gold” empire has been going on for years without the knowledge of the victims’ relatives, most of whom just pick the bodies of their loved ones from the morgues and head straight to the cemetery without minding to check the cadaver’s conditions.  One of those families would have been that of Lubov Frolova, a Ukranian woman whose son’s organs and tissues were harvested. “On the way to the cemetery in the hearse, one of the shoes slipped off (my son’s) foot,” she told the ICIJ. “(The foot) seemed to be hanging loose. When my daughter-in-law touched it, she said it (felt) empty inside.” Police investigations revealed that two ribs, two Achilles tendons, two elbows, two eardrums and two teeth were among the organs missing in the body. Frolova’s eerie discovery, coupled with tens of other incidences, led to the uncovering of a huge syndicate of illicit organ trade involving Ukrainian morgues and US human tissue multi-nationals.

This has led to an outcry in the medical field because, besides violating the dead without the family’s consent, the shadowy trade also exposes the recipients to the dangers of infections since most of the tissues are not subjected to proper medical tests to establish the donor’s medical history. While blood donations and intact organs like hearts and livers are bar-corded and strongly regulated, it’s hard to verify the sterility of products made from skin and other tissues since there are no particular structures set in place to regulate the industry. Many countries leave the responsibility of identifying and confirming the identities of tissue donors to drugs makers and tissue banks.

However, this might change soon since the World Health Organisation (WHO) plans to track human tissue traded for transplants in order to ensure safety of donors and prevent illegal collections. The ICIJ says that a work group to look at the issue has already been set up and will have its first sitting in France at the end of this month. The group “intends to use codes for medical materials and other products derived from human tissues”. Although the United States is the biggest trader of products from human tissue, its authorities are unable to quantify the number of imported tissues, their country of origin or where the products subsequently go.

Many countries, especially in the Third World, including Kenya, do not have regulations on the use of human tissue. Where they have such legislation, the codes are weak, ineffective or unimplemented. The big boys are not fairing well either. For instance, although it supplies about two-thirds of the global human tissue product market, the United States, through its Food and Drug Administration (FDA), has the inspection records of only seven per cent of the 340 tissue banks registered with it. “When the FDA registers you, all you have to do is fill out a form and wait for an inspection,” Dr Duke Kasprisin, medical director for seven US tissue banks, told the ICIJ. “For the first year or two, you can function without having anyone look at you.”

Circumcision linked to cosmetics industry

One of the most unlikely human body parts that has attracted a lot of attention is the foreskin of the male organ, which is used in the production of skin treatment medication and products. And with WHO estimating that 30 per cent of the world’s males are circumcised, and that millions undergo the minor surgical procedure annually, it is clear that the supply curve will keep rising.

Treated as a medical procedure in the West and a rite of passage in many Third World countries, the global demand for circumcision was triggered by a United Nations and Centre for Disease Control report in 2007 that advised that removing the foreskin reduces the risk of contracting HIV during penetrative sex.

Riding the wave, the United States donated Sh960 million shillings towards Kenya’s five-year nationwide free circumcision campaign, but while a lot of attention has been focused on “the cut”, few have bothered to ask what happens to the foreskins of the millions of males who are circumcised around the world every year.

Besides being an important ingredient for numerous skin care products and interferon drugs, foreskin is also used in the production of fibroblasts (skin cells used in the regeneration of new skin). Due to their biological properties, fibroblasts are used in all kinds of medical procedures, from eyelid replacement, growing skin for burn victims and those with diabetic ulcers to making anti-wrinkle creams and other products in the cosmetics industry.  Scientific research has shown that one foreskin, which contains millions of fibroblast cells, when treated through a process called culturing, can be used for decades to produce miles of new skin for burn victims and those undergoing plastic surgery.

A single foreskin contains enough genetic material to grow approximately 250,000 square feet of new smooth skin. With this lab-developed skin said to cost around $3,000 (Sh246,000) per square feet, just one piece of this seemingly insignificant part of the male flesh can generate thousands of dollars in revenues over a prolonged period of time. According to the Caltech Undergraduate Research Journal, published by the California Institute of Technology, infant foreskins are preferred because they have more potential for cell division and less incidence of tissue rejection since they have not fully developed their individual identifying proteins.

The inner lining of the foreskin is usually fused with the glans at birth, making infant circumcision a precarious process. Although modernity has tried to alleviate the pain through contraptions like clamps, opponents of the practice among newborns argue that, besides exposing the baby to unbearable pain and possible permanent tissue damage, it is also a violation of the young one’s human rights.

Intercytex, a tissue generation company based in Cambridge, United Kingdom, has raised the foreskin utility business several notches higher by developing an injection-based drug called Valveta. Dubbed a “fountain of youth in baby foreskins”, Valveta rejuvenates and smoothens skin withered by age, wrinkles or damaged by scarring from acne, burns and surgical incisions. One vial of this medication, enough to treat an area of skin the size of a postage stamp, consists of about 20 million live fibroblasts, cells that produce the skin-firming protein called collagen, which becomes increasingly scarce with age. The number of Valveta vials that a patient needs is determined by the surface area of skin destroyed. However, the drug, which goes for about $1000 (Sh82,000) per vial, is not approved for use outside the United Kingdom, where it was introduced in 2007.

Despite spirited resistance from activists across the world, infant circumcision remains popular in several parts of the world, which ensures that baby foreskin remains in constant supply. In Where is My Foreskin? The Case Against Circumcision, Paul Fleiss, an American paediatrician and author known for his unconventional medical views, says “parents should be very wary of anyone who tries to cut their child’s foreskin since the marketing of purloined baby foreskins is a multi-million-dollar-a-year industry”. And there might be a point to these allegations, given that Dermagraft-TC, one of the many products grown from cells extracted from infant foreskins and used as a temporary wound covering for serious burn patients, sells for about $3,000 (Sh246,000) per square feet, according to some American medical journals.

Child Sacrifice, Organs Harvesting and Ritual Murders

Stories of child murders for body parts harvesting are rampant in Uganda and other countries of Africa. A story of Kato Kajubi a Ugandan business tycoon sentenced to life imprisonment by a court in Uganda for committing child sacrifice. This sad story is one amongst many on how children are vulnerable.

Story by Daily Nation MICHAEL SSALI 13th August 2012, watchmanafricA,

Godfrey Kato Kajubi was no pauper. At 56, he owns property in Kampala, including hostels for university students and other pieces of real estate.

Many mortals would have been satisfied with just a roof over their heads. But it is not with Kajubi who will spend the rest of his life in prison.

The businessman, who also owned an expensive house at Gayaza near Masaka town, where he would often spend weekends, was seized with the conviction that there was more to making money than business acumen.

He believed in the unseen hand of spirits and the power of blood and human flesh in business and prosperity — precisely the sort of dark alchemy that leads to ritual murder.

And it was just a matter of time before it happened but it takes two to tango.

Kajubi’s partner was Umaru Kateregga, a young witchdoctor. Kateregga had apparently helped the businessman to recover the potency of his (Kajubi’s) personal shrine for which he was paid handsomely.

 Kateregga and his wife Mariam Nabukeera lived in Kayugi village in Mukungwe sub-county, Masaka District, where the witchdoctor had a shrine.

 According to Kateregga’s testimony in court, Kajubi asked him to find him a boy to work as a farm hand, collecting eggs on his poultry farm at Gayaza.

 Kateregga took time looking for the right candidate. He finally zeroed in on a neighbour’s grandchild, 12-year-old Joseph Kasirye, a Class Five pupil.

“The boy was our friend and he used to visit us,” Kateregga told the court.

 “He looked miserable and had told us he did not like school. When we told him about a rich man who would employ him  to collect eggs on his farm, he seemed excited about the idea.

So I went ahead and rang up Kajubi and informed him that I had found the boy he wanted. He told us that he would come for him on 27 October, 2008,” Kateregga testified before Mr Justice Michael Kibita.

On 26 October, 2008, Kateregga visited his neighbour, Mzee Matia Mulondo, 73, Kasirye’s grandfather and guardian.  At the compound was also Kasirye’s paternal uncle, Paulo Kasirye, who was visiting.

 In court, Paulo Kasirye recalled Kateregga asking for water. He remembered Kateregga pulling the boy aside and the two speaking in whispers. The reason would soon be clear.

Just before sunset, the boy took a jerry can and headed for the village well. His family never saw him again.

That evening, Mzee Mulondo and many family members combed the village for the boy but there was no sign of him. They also visited Kateregga’s home, but were told the boy had not been seen there.

In court, Kateregga admitted that Kasirye was in his house waiting for the rich man to pick him up. He testified that a bed was made for the boy in the living room after supper when Kajubi called to say that he would be late.

At about midnight, Kajubi called again to confirm that the boy was at Kateregga’s house. The businessman showed up past midnight carrying bottles of beer, soda, and samosas.

He offered a beer to Mariam and a bottle of soda and the samosas to the boy, who had been woken up when he arrived. Kateregga drank the rest of the beer.

Although both Mariam and Kateregga were Muslims, the court heard, they often drank beer.

After a few minutes, Mariam and the boy fell unconscious.

Kateregga told the hushed court that Kajubi called a man he referred to as Stephen, who had remained in the car.

According to Kateregga, Kajubi drew a pistol and ordered him and Stephen to carry Mariam out of the house through the back door.  Kateregga told the court that the gun-wielding businessman made him swear that he would never disclose what was about to happen.

Kajubi told Stephen to fetch a bucket, a gunny bag, and a knife from the car. At that stage, Kateregga  told the court that he was terrified, but he obeyed Kajubi’s orders because he feared that he would shoot him.

The witchdoctor testified that the businessman ordered him to take the sword and chop off Kasirye’s head. He and Stephen were then told to tap all the blood from Kasirye’s body into the bucket. The head was also put into the bucket.

Kajubi then ordered the two to cut off the boy’s genitals and put them in the bucket, then cover it. Kateregga and Stephen were told to wrap the body in a polythene sheet, then place it in the gunny bag. The bag was put in the boot of Kajubi’s car along with the bucket.

The court was told that Kajubi ordered Kateregga to get into the car and sit between Stephen and himself as Stephen drove.

Kateregga was supposed to show them a safe place in the swamp to dump the corpse. After disposing of the body, Kajubi took the wheel and drove Kateregga back to his house, then left.

By then, Kateregga’s wife was regaining consciousness. She asked if the rich man had left with the boy. Kateregga told the court that he told her what had happened and the couple decided to flee the village.

The following day, nearly everybody in the village was looking for the missing boy, but Kateregga and his wife were not in the search parties.

The villagers became suspicious because witchdoctors are rumoured to be notorious for child sacrifice and the traditional healer was not participating in the search.

Their suspicions were confirmed when they realised that the couple was preparing to leave. They arrested them and took them to the police.

A search at the witchdoctor’s house yielded Kasirye’s clothes and the empty jerry can from his grandfather’s home. Blood stains were also found on the floor.

On interrogation by the police, the story spilled out and Kateregga even directed the police to where the body was hidden.

When the story broke, Kajubi, a well known businessman in Kampala, presented himself to the police when it emerged that he was being sought.

Kateregga and his wife Mariam were prosecution witnesses in the case before Mr Justice Moses Mukiibi, who on 23 April, 2010 ruled that Kajubi had no case to answer and that he should not be prosecuted because the evidence before he court was not sufficient.

However, the State appealed and the ruling was overturned. The Court of Appeal ordered that Kajubi be arrested again and charged with murder.

The businessman went missing for almost a year until he was arrested early this year inside a shrine along the Entebbe-Kampala road.

On 1 February, Kajubi was charged with murder. The State appointed Mr Fred Kamugunda to represent him. He was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment.

The dark art of harvesting human organs for riches

In September 2009, a six-year-old Sudanese boy, Emmanuel Agwar Adar was kidnapped   and murdered in Nairobi.  The murder was gory as it can be but they still rubbed it on by cutting off his tongue.

Barely a month before, the city’s taxi drivers took to the streets to protest the murder of their six colleagues in mysterious circumstances.

The taxi men claimed all the victims had their private parts chopped off before being dumped in the outskirts of the city.

Although there was no official confirmation, the drivers said the murders were related to a mix of occult and extortion.

Witchcraft hasn’t disappeared from African culture just as it refuses to go in the West. For centuries, human body parts have been used as ingredients for magical concoctions and charms.

To obtain body parts, performers of these dark arts kill people in order to harvest specific organs for use in the occult.

Things haven’t been easy for them with the advent of the nation-state in Africa where murder is a capital offence, meaning witchdoctors can only acquire these body parts from underground organ hunters.

Cases similar to that of the Kenyan drivers, where people disappear mysteriously, only for their bodies to be discovered several days later minus various body parts are so many in the continent today that they are treated as routine crimes in some countries.

According to the South African Police Service Research Centre reports, there is a belief that body parts taken from live victims are rendered more potent by their screams, which means victims must be subjected to pain before death.

Ritual killings have been reported in Mozambique where the country’s Human Rights League has blamed them on the proliferation of witchdoctors from western Africa.

Authorities have also confirmed that although most of the organs trafficked in that country are for transplants, extraction of organs for witchcraft purposes also happens.

Human skin appears to be one of the most sought-after things by ritual killers in Africa. During the early 2000s, there were widespread cases of people being killed and skinned in the Mbeya region of Tanzania and Mwiki outskirts of Nairobi.

Investigations by the media and police revealed there was a high demand for human skin in Malawi, Zambia, Mozambique, South Africa where it fetched $2,400 (Sh180,000) to $9,600 (Sh180,000) depending on the age of the victim.

Nigeria has the highest number of occult killings in the continent. Not surprisingly, the vice has found thematic expression in the country’s vibrant film industry.

According to Nigerian authorities, the killings are perpetrated by people commonly known as headhunters, who act at the behest of juju men.

Cases of children being abducted and ritually slaughtered are so many in southwest Nigeria that they once sparked a spate of murderous protests and mob lynching that left more than 20 suspected kidnappers dead.

The murder in London of a Nigerian boy, which British police named “Boy Adam” for lack of positive identification, in September 2001, brought to international attention to Nigeria’s ritual killings.

Forensic examinations on Adam’s torso, found floating in River Thames, revealed that he was a native of Yoruba Plateau in Nigeria and the state of the cadaver indicated a style of ritual killing practised in West and Southern Africa.

Kenya Blue Hearts Grassroots Initiative (KBHGI)

Blue Hearts against human trafficking
TheBlue Hearts Campaign against human trafficking by UNODC, The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) calls human trafficking the crime that shames us all.

Fern Poetry, Sanalimu Art Ensemble and Rafiki Mwafrika are local youthful grassroots educative organizations that use performing arts to educate the public on issues of social economic justice. These three organizations together with Consolation East Africa (CEA) and Riruta Environmental Group (REG) have come together to form an initiative known as the Kenya Blue Hearts Grassroots Initiative (KBHGI).

The three artistic organizations intend to created artistic productions on human trafficking in a bid to reach a wider audience in Kenya. REG on the other hand intend to use its environmental mobilization activities to spread the counter human trafficking message. Apart from UNODC Blue Heart campaign, the groups have been inspired by the Koinonia Research and Development Service (KARDS)  study of 2009 on the proliferation of human trafficking within the East African Region. The blue hearts campaign by the  UNODC  presents an easy and simple image to reach out as many publics as possible. It could also be explained in the following ways:

  • There is need to help eliminate the contemporary forms of slavery in Kenya and East Africa. These include the exploitative massage parlours, brothels, gardens, sex tourism, exploitative domestic work, mines and the forced labour, and the sexual exploitation and exploiting  the bodies of other human beings for organs to be used for medical and other purposes.
  • Women and men  get smuggled across borders in search of jobs as house servants. Once in their destinations they become captives and cannot escape ending up as victims of human trafficking. Young girls and women on the other hand are offered a plane ticket to take a well-paying job in another country to find out upon arrival that the job is nothing better than prostitution, and cannot escape until they have reimbursed the investment that was made in them, are the victims of human trafficking.
  • Vulnerable children who are taken away from their home environments for purposes of being sponsored and then end up becoming slaves too are victims of human trafficking.
Following the 2009 study, KARDS has used various approaches to educate the various publics on the extent of both domestic and international human trafficking. The KARDS campaign is done through Consolation East Africa (CEA) a local NGO dedicated to spreading the awareness against human trafficking in Kenya and Tanzania’s FBOs and Grassroots organizations. CEA on its part builds the capacity of grassroots organizations to educate their own communities by use of “grassroots innovative approaches.” Hence it is for this reason that Fern Poetry, Sanalimu Arts Ensemble and Rafiki Mwafrikaare now collaborating through the use of arts and drama to disseminate counter trafficking messages to schools, faith based organizations and general publics as part of their community outreach programs.
It is in this same spirit that the member KBHGI  have provided partial sponsorship for this play. They intend to perform their play known as Blue Hearts in the local theatre groups in Nairobi and also take it to the grassroots through in their community outreach program and school tours.The KBHGI initiative is looking for more partners and supporters. Their main aim is to use performance and visual arts and environmental tools to spread  messages against human trafficking.The activities of the KBHGI can be seen from here:

Fern Poerty http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-VRYVkmIhoo&feature=plcp&context=C39b2609UDOEgsToPDskLZ0zHwVTWOKNY7jToKLkNY

Sanalimu Arts Ensemble http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f1PnvjSIjok

Poster: Counter Human Trafficking Syposium for FBOs and Grassroots in EA

Contact consolationeastafrica@gmail.com or 0736 935 387,  and 0720 812 638 or 0720 444 545

Programme: Counter Human Trafficking Symposium for the Faith Based and Grassroots Organizations in East Africa

Counter Human Trafficking Symposium for the Faith Based and Grassroots Organizations in East Africa

Tuesday 22nd to Thursday 24th Nov.2011

Scientific Committee

1. Richard Ochanda

2. Elias Mokua

3. Paul Kisolo

4. Kuria Njenga

5. Mary IRCK

PROGRAM

 TUESDAY 22ND NOVEMBER 2011

 8.00-8.30 hrs: Registration Hall A

 8.30 to 10.30 hrs: First Session Welcome and Introduction Moderator Paul Kisolo, Executive Consultant KARDS

 Practical Experiences I

1. Combating Human trafficking along the Kenya Coastline – Paul Adhoch – Trace Kenya, Mombasa

2. Commercial sex workers in Mombasa and exposure to human trafficking- Ruth Lewa, Solwodi, Mombasa

3. Human Trafficking in the Great Lakes Region: Focus on Rwanda, Burundi and the Congo Region. John Ndayishimiye. Koinonia Community. Nairobi

4. Organization landscape and social innovation amongst the FBOs and CSO’s tackling the problem of Human Trafficking in East Africa- Richard Muko Ochanda, KARDS, Nairobi

 11.00 to 13.00 hrs: Practical Experiences  II  Hall A: Moderator  Richard Muko Ochanda

 4. Experiences of those affected by the problem of human trafficking- Joseph Kamau-Former Coordinator, Peace and Justice Commission, Tangaza, Nairobi

5. How the human trafficking problem contributes towards the street children phenomena-Joyce Mango- Hope for the Children, Dar es Salaam

6. Problems encountered by domestic workers and their susceptibility to human trafficking. Albert Masawe, REST, Dar es Salaam

 11.00 to 13.00 hrs: Practical Experiences  III Class C4: Moderator Carolyne Wairimu

 7. Vulnerability of women in Nairobi’s poor areas and exposure to Human Trafficking- Martha Mwende- Kivuli Youth Group, Nairobi

8. Environmental concern in relation to countering human trafficking –  Godfrey Rayo Kilei-REG, Nairobi

9. Refugees and vulnerability to human trafficking- Dr. Andre Niyonsaba –UNILAC, Nairobi

 

 11.00 am to 13.00 hrs: Practical Experiences  IV Hall A: Moderator Kuria Njenga

11. Resource mobilization opportunities and challenges for the counter Human trafficking organizations in East Africa- Paul Kisolo- KARDS, Nairobi

12. Social  networking amongst the counter human trafficking organizations in East Africa and data management-Richard Muko Ochanda, KARDS, Nairobi

13. Attracting media attention to enhance counter trafficking work amongst the FBOs and the grassroots. Esther Kabugi, Koinonia Community, Nairobi

 14.00 to 16.00 hrs: Psychological and Emotional Care for the Traumatized Hall A: Moderator, Ruth Lewa

14. Enhancement of trauma healing through support structures; focus on trafficked victims and badly exploited persons.  William Omondi –Chief counselor  Koinonia Community, Nairobi

15. Trauma counseling and debriefing for the seriously emotionally disturbed; focus on human trafficking victims- Marcellina Obudo -Rescou Counseling Center, Nairobi

16.  Human Psyche in Human Trafficking: A self Consulted Decision: Nuru Ya Nyota, Nairobi

16.00 to 17.00 hrs: Performance by FERN POETRY

 WEDNESDAY 23RD NOVEMBER 2011

 8.30 to 10.30  Moral Reflection: Hall A: Moderator Paul Adhoch

16. Theological reflection on the problem of human trafficking- Dr. Elias Mokua-Jesuit Hakimani Center, Nairobi

17. Selfishness, pursuit for economic success vs. morality, Richard Muko Ochanda, KARDS, Nairobi.

11.00 to 13.00 hrs: Community Participation I Hall A: Moderator Joyce Mango

18. Student role in mitigating human trafficking; focus on tertiary institution-Kuria Njenga- IMCS, Nairobi 

19. The role of community media groups in tackling human trafficking, Faith Mwende, KOMNET, Nairobi

20. How FBOs can act to counter human trafficking- Pastor Allan Asava,  Purpose for Living Church, Nairobi

11.00 to 13.00 hrs: Community Participation II Class Hall C: Albert Masawe

21. Soliciting the collaboration of peace and justice commissions in combating the Human Trafficking problem from the national to the grassroots-Joseph Kamau-Former coordinator Peace and Justice, Tangaza College,Nairobi

22. The role of performing arts in mitigating human trafficking-Bernard Muhia – Fern Poems, Nairobi

11.00 to 13.00 hrs: Education and Empowerment Class C4: Godfrey Kilei

23. Primary adult education as a strategy to mitigate against Human Trafficking-Kivuli Language Centre

24. The role of technical education in reducing the vulnerability to Human Trafficking – Eric Kirea- Diakonia Institute, Nairobi

25. Education as a mitigating tool against human trafficking- Felix Shivachi-  Topmark, Nairobi

14.00 to 16.00 hrs: Legal and Judicial Assistance Wednesday Hall B: Moderator, Tom Owenga

26. The legal aspect and human trafficking-Radek Malinowisky, HAART, Nairobi

27. The Kenya Anti Trafficking Law and Ensuing Implementation Challenges – Richard Muko, KARDS, Nairobi

28. The Tanzania Anti Trafficking Law and Ensuing Implementation Challenges – Albert Masawe, REST, Dar es Salaam

29. The Legal Chalenge vs Child Labour and the Need for Survival: Experience of AFCIC in Thika Municipality.  Phillip Wairire, AFCIC and KLAW, Thika.

16.00 to 17.00 hrs: East or West Home is best. Sanalimu Art Ensemble

THURSDAY 24th NOVEMBER 2011

8.30 to 10.30 hrs: Monitoring and Evaluation Hall A Thursday: Mary IRCK

29. Counter Human Trafficking Interventions Impact assessment using the RE-AIM framework, Tom Omwenga, Child Aid Organization, Nairobi

30. Counter Human Trafficking Interventions Impact assessment using the Rainbow Score Card, Paul Kisolo, KARDS, Nairobi

31. Knowledge management for improvement of human trafficking practices-Sammy Mwangi-Consolation East Africa, Nairobi

 11.00 to 13.00 hrs: Social Cultural and Political Influences Hall A Dr. Andre Niyonsaba

32. Social-cultural aspect of human trafficking- Caroline Wairimu – HAART, Nairobi

33. Masculinity as a social construct promoting human trafficking- Charles Koech-Men for Equality, Nairobi

34. ICT and Problems Related to Human Trafficking. Harrison Kyalo, Koinonia Community, Nairobi

35. The Kenyan National Anthem as a tool against exploitation and human trafficking – George Ndikwe, KOMNET, Nairobi

14.00 to 16.00 hrs: Close up session and summary:

36. Moderator, Paul Kisolo Paul Adhoch-Trace Kenya,  Ruth Lewa-Solwodi and Richard Ochanda-KARDS

16.00 to 17.00: Vigilante Judges Drama by Rafiki Mwafrika

For any further information kindly call +254 736 935 387 or 0720 444545 or 0720 812 638

Extreme poverty among challenges to human rights in the country

Saturday, 22 October 2011 22:21

Although the number of albino killings has dropped drastically in the country, the acts greatly tarnish Tanzania’s human rights image and record. PHOTO | FILE

How is Tanzania’s record on human rights?
I think we must speak of very good records in terms of social cohesion, increasing attention to human rights in the new Mkukuta and Mkuza, as well as commitments towards the International Bill of Human Rights by ratifications of the two Covenants and reference to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in the Constitution.
Tanzania is also known for having achieved great improvements in access to education, for hosting and finding durable solutions for large numbers of refugees and therefore contributing to peace and stability in the Great Lakes region. So, there are several positive and commendable efforts from Tanzania’s side in terms of human rights.  There are also some challenges.

Widespread poverty indicates difficulties in realising the right to an adequate standard of living.  We also know that the governments of both Mainland and Zanzibar are taking steps to address gender inequalities and domestic violence.  However, there is still a long way ahead towards full equality and the eradication of violence against both women and children.
Do you have any specific areas on human rights where you think Tanzania isn’t faring well?
Well, it is difficult to point out specific areas.  All human rights issues are linked to each other.  But, the recent and credible reports from civil society about a rise in killings, or arbitrary deprivations of life, particularly in the North West regions cannot be ignored.  One becomes particularly concerned about the stories of killings of women, where offenders are bringing up the card of witchcraft, as a pretext to commit serious offences and grab property or land from widows, or women living under other exposed conditions.

These reports also remind us about the situation we had with the killings of persons with albinism a few years back in the same region.  The number of deadly attacks on this group has recently dropped significantly — we are not aware of any murders in Tanzania so far this year– but there are still incidents of serious abuse and a need to address stigma among child victims, as well as their families.  Horrendously, it also seems there are still a market for buying body parts in Tanzania and some reliable indications of trafficking of the remains of victims from other countries over the borders.
So what steps did you take when there was an emergence of albino killings?
We worked closely with the government to look at immediate actions to respond and it stepped up quickly to its obligation to investigate and prosecute persons alleged to have committed these offenses in Tanzania. There was also a number of social protection measures put in place, such as safe shelters for children with albinism.

Albinism is nothing but a form of skin disorder, and as such, it raises needs for special medical attention. Such affirmative steps should also be coupled with a repeated message of zero tolerance for any discrimination of this group as the members are endowed with same rights and should be provided protection for the same reasons as for anybody else in the country.

Of late, human right activists have been advocating  the abolishment of death penalty, what do you think about this?
In terms of death penalty, the UN has developed and promotes a number of instruments on the formal and permanent abolition of the death penalty. A week ago, the UN System marked the fact that more 140 states, meaning a great majority of the countries in the world, have abolished the death penalty in one way or another.
And, even if the death penalty is still in the books of Tanzania, execution of these penalties have not been ordered for several years.  So, we may say that in practice, it is also not part of the Tanzanian sanctioning system any more.  The next question would then be to mirror this development in law, so that the criminal sanctioning system becomes reliable and predictable, not only for offenders but also for victims of serious crime and the public at large.

Don’t you think that, it is also a violation of human rights to keep prisoners who are in the death row without releasing them?
It is not a violation of rights as such, but depends on the circumstances of the trial and prison conditions. UN does not carry out prison monitoring so I cannot give an informed opinion on the situation within adult prisons in Tanzania.  But, the government and several civil society organisations have recently signalled an expectation that the question of death penalty and sanctions system will be up for discussion during the constitution reform review, once it takes off.  That seems to be the right way; it is in the constitution’s bill of rights that questions of death penalty and treatment of prisoners shall be settled.   So, I think we will soon see a clearer direction where we are going with this in Tanzania.

Is the UN trying to make efforts to push the government to speed up in terms of making a decision whether to do away with death penalty or to carry on with it?
Well, the UN would of course welcome  a clear commitment from the government through ratification of the human rights protocol abolishing the death penalty as well as the Convention Against Torture, regarding treatment of suspects, prisoners and other groups deprived of liberty.  It would mark an important step in Tanzania’s progressive approach to human rights, and perhaps additional opportunities for international support to the underfunded justice sector and prison reform initiatives.

Do you think the killings of albinos have been a stumbling block towards your efforts of promoting human rights?
For any country, a sudden rise  in killings of a particular group would be a devastating crack in the human rights situation.  We were witnessing abhorrent crimes and attacks on a vulnerable group of society that was already confronted with other unjustified abuses.  But, as much as the news of killings shocked the human rights community, the case also shows how the Government demonstrated a capability to address human rights violations as they arise.

UN is promoting rights of homosexuals and lesbianism. Don’t you think this contradicts African values?
Let’s first be clear on the UN stance. We are promoting tolerance for all minorities, whether characterised by ethnicity, age, disability or sexual orientation.  Not long time ago, the UN Human Rights Council commissioned an investigation into alarming trends of hate motivated attacks on the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) society around the world and this week the Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights afforded a Ugandan citizen a prestigious international price for her courageous defence of the rights of the LGBT society in her country.

So, I do not know on what basis one can call promotion of these general human rights principles a contradiction to African values.  In fact, Tanzania and many other African States have voluntarily acceded to human rights conventions prohibiting all forms of discrimination and incorporated such standards in their constitutions or other acts of law.  There is further nothing in the Tanzanian legal framework that permits a citizen to defame or harass others on basis of their convictions or relationships.

As to the general call for decriminalisation, we are fully aware that legal reform takes time and might be useless unless foregone by changes in public opinion.   An informed and open dialogue among government representatives, human rights defenders, the LGBT society and other stakeholders has proven useful in other countries.  It helps to define the questions and clarify the facts in a discussion too often infected by bias and misperceptions of the claims of the LGBT society. This might be the way forward in Tanzania as well.

Tanzania has just completed the Universal Periodic Review, what are your comments on  recommendations made and the next steps?
We are very satisfied with the preliminary results of the inter-State discussions.  Many members of the Human Rights Council commended Tanzania for the transparent, inclusive  approach and constructive tone during the dialogue in Geneva.  We also think that the Government has made bold commitments.
There are several important undertakings in the field of the rule of law, violence against women and children, civil society relationships and human rights education and awareness rising.  There is also a strong reiteration towards the establishment of a national action plan for human rights.  As a privy to the work that has been done so far, I believe this is an important process.

A national human rights action plan can become a vehicle for implementation of recommendations from UPR and other international human rights review mechanisms.

Most of all, it would guarantee a continued, transparent and broad-based dialogue on the human rights situation in Tanzania for the years to come.

Witchcraft Claims and Mob Action in Nyahera

Photo/FILE  Residents of Ogada Village in Kisumu North celebrate as the house of a suspected witch goes up in flames.

Photo/FILE Residents of Ogada Village in Kisumu North celebrate as the house of a suspected witch goes up in flames. Kisumu OCPD John Mwinzi says things are likely to get out of hand if nothing is done to cool down the tempers and bring police services closer to the people. He also blames a loophole in Section Five of the Constitution that allows arrested suspects to be released back to the community as probe into their conduct is carried out. This, he says, agitates the community, leading to such acts of lawlessness.

By STELLA CHERONO and AMOL AKOO dn2@ke.nationmedia.com Posted  Monday, May 30 2011 at 16:59

Lorna Adhiambo, 28, lies helplessly outside the spot where her home once stood in Ogada Village of Nyahera in Kisumu.

She is terminally ill and has been left under the care of her grandmother Mary Aluoch, who is equally weak.

A fortnight ago, angry villagers, known very well to her, bludgeoned her parents to death and burnt their two houses.

Their sins? Witchcraft, according to the villagers.

Such is the terror enveloping Nyahera as citizens take the law in their hands, and the police say the situation is likely to get out of hand since “certain sections of the new Constitution force us to release suspects, who are invariably lynched by enraged mobs”.

“The crowd pounced on us after the body of an eight-year-old girl was found in a maize plantation. They blamed her death on my parents,” sobs Adhiambo, who has lost two children, to use her adverb, mysteriously.

Within a year, two of her daughters were found dead in the homestead’s backyard. Their private parts, she told us, had been chopped off, and villagers pointed a finger at her parents.

When Adhiambo was pregnant with her fourth child, she says, the husband left her because of the witchcraft allegations.

“He left with our third child fearing the baby would also be killed. That’s when I began to search for truth behind the deaths of my children.

“One of the strategies I applied was to try and get closer to the top suspect — my real father — but he was lynched before I could complete my mission,” she sobs.

On the morning her father Bonga Odenyo and mother Nereah Akinyi were lynched, the body of Margaret Adhiambo, 8, had been found on a farm a day after she had disappeared.

Margaret’s mother, Theresa Onyango, said she had sent her daughter to buy floor and cooking oil, but she never returned home.

“Armed with machetes and other weapons, our neighbours forced their way into our homestead and dragged my mother to the field, where they were also holding my dad,” a teary Adhiambo recalls.

She remembers the enraged neighbours singing and chanting “Bonga ichinjo wa ndalo ma thoth (Bonga, you have butchered our own for long)” as they stoned them to death.

“I cannot describe the pain. My parents were killed in the manner people use to kill snakes. I wished I could help. They should have spared at least one of them to care for us,” regrets Adhiambo.

Not even the police could save the couple from the irate mob. “They were overwhelmed, and soon my parents were lifeless.”

After the crowd confirmed that Mr and Mrs Bonga were dead, they dragged the bodies into one of their houses and set them ablaze, claiming that, by so doing, they would completely get rid of the evil spirits they had been using to kill people.

“I only managed to crawl into the house and save my antiretroviral drugs before the villagers set it ablaze,” says Adhiambo.

The villagers had barred police officers from taking the bodies to the mortuary, saying that their ‘spirits’ had to burn with the bodies.

A villager (name withheld) who participated in the lynching says the whole village has decided to flush out and kill anyone suspected of being a witch.

To prove that Mr Bonga and his wife were indeed witches, the villager says a large snake slithered out of one the houses when they were torched, but it was stoned to death and pushed back to the burning house.

The lynching of suspected witches has been prevalent in Kisii and Nyamira districts, and now Kisumu seems to have borrowed a leaf.

Apart the suspected witches, those who associate with them or help them also face the same fiery wrath. And the mob variety of justice has extended its firm hand to other “transgressions” as well.

For example, on the morning of March 11, Kokul Village of Nyakach woke up to the foulest of murders. A man aged 72 and his wife had been burnt beyond recognition in their sleep.

Marcus Ong’idi is said to have been set ablaze by fellow villagers who claimed he had been helping members of a rival clan to graze their cattle on his clan’s piece of earth.

The clan, according to one of the victim’s sons George Ochieng, 38, had been embroiled in dispute with the villagers for a long time, with accusations of stock theft flying whenever tempers flared.

Chanting war songs

Ong’idi lived on the border between Nyando and Nyakach with his two sons and his ailing wife, Dorina Nyarang’.

George told our crew that the gang struck at around 8:30pm, chanting war songs as they hurled stones onto the iron roof of their small dwelling.

“They started with our parent’s home, and forced their way into the house where the old man and his wife were sleeping.

“They destroyed everything in the house and set it on fire. We could not rescue them because we feared for our lives,” he says, fighting back tears.

“They destroyed all the property and slashed several calves and a dog before burning the carcasses as well.”

It happened as Ochieng’ watched from a nearby sugarcane farm, where he had scampered to hide from the mob.

“I wanted to come out and rescue them, but I knew too well that they would kill me. I helplessly watched the group, which was composed of more than 20 men.”

And he says he knows most of the attackers. One of them, he says, lives near the home of the victims and was seated outside his house with his family and friends during our visit “to watch as mourners arrived.”

Villagers who arrived to console the family said the feud between Ong’idi and his clan had lasted for several years.

In another incident, three men were lynched by the public in Kasawino village of Kisumu’s Nyamasaria area on suspicion of being robbers.

Property worth hundreds of thousands of shillings was recovered from a house the men are said to have lived in.

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