The Kenya Anti Trafficking in Persons Bill: Victim Protection

By Richard Muko Ochanda

Victim Protection

In recognition of the fact that victims of trafficking pass through horrendous experiences during their ordeals  the bill provides for their privacy during hearings. The courts may even decide that some of the sessions be held in camera. It is therefore important in this case that those who bring a suit on behalf of the victim to the courts (i.e. the state) understand fully the circumstances that the victim passed through so as a determination may be made as to whether the sessions should be held in camera or not. This requires good level of competence in dealing with cases of this nature.

The Bill also proposes that publishing the proceedings held in camera is an offence. The court apart from imprisoning the culprit may also order him or her to compensate the victim. The victim is also given immunity from prosecution. While this immunity is important for the genuine victims, care must be taken that it is not used as a loophole to advance criminal activities.  The bill empowers the minister in charge of gender formulate plans for the provision of appropriate services for victims of trafficking in the light of the 3P’s. In order to help the victim find recourse the bill provides that

  • The victim will be eligible to work during their duration of necessary presence in Kenya
  • Remain in Kenya until their legal proceeding are concluded
  • Be communicated to in a language he/she understands
  • Exempted from court fines
  • Assistance in repatriation

So far there are many challenges in today’s Kenya as far as victim assistance is concerned. It will be important to ensure that the legal system is made to work faster in cases of this nature so as it does not become burdensome for a victim taking time in Kenya waiting for justice. Secondly, there are very few “safe havens” for trafficking victims. At times, victims have been placed in police custody while waiting for the final recourse. Repatriation always poses a challenge; is it enough to give the victim money to go home or to put him/her in an efficient transport means back home? Certainly not, as the victim will need to be assisted reintegrate back to her/his original society fully. Reintegration is first self restoration and second the ability to fit into the society. It must be observed here that the victim coming from a trafficking ordeal, might have been subjected to a heavy legal ordeal and other energy draining ordeals in a strange place. Many a times they experience shame and bitterness which is directed to their home societies. Hence the costs of rehabilitation and reintegration are just too enormous and can only be met superficially in order to fully meet the needs of the victims.   Lastly issues of psycho social accompaniment in order to help the victim deal with the aftermath effects of trauma are important; including psychological counseling and religious accompaniment.

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