The US Govt’s Report of the State of Human Trafficking in Kenya 2011

KENYA (Tier 2)

Kenya is a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking. Within the country, Kenyan children are forced into domestic servitude, sex trafficking – including involvement in the coastal sex tourism industry – and labor in agriculture (including on flower plantations), fishing, cattle herding, street vending, and bars. Traffickers, who gain poor families’ trust through familial, tribal, or religious ties, fraudulently recruit children through offers to raise and educate them and women through offers to place them in lucrative employment. Kenyan men, women, and children voluntarily migrate to other East African nations, Europe, and the Middle East – particularly Saudi Arabia – in search of employment, where they are trafficked into domestic servitude, massage parlors and brothels, and forced manual labor, including in the construction industry. Children from Burundi, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Somalia, Tanzania, and Uganda are subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking in Kenya. Chinese, Indian, and Pakistani women reportedly transit Nairobi en route to exploitation in Europe’s sex trade.

The Government of Kenya does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. During the reporting period, the government enacted comprehensive anti-trafficking legislation and convicted and punished two trafficking offenders. It expanded the reach and effectiveness of its hotline, launched a campaign against child trafficking, provided legal representation for child sex trafficking victims, and established an anti-trafficking office in the Ministry of Gender, Children, and Social Development. It failed, however, to finalize or implement its national plan of action, address trafficking complicity among law enforcement officials, or provide adequate anti-trafficking training to its officials, including diplomats, police, labor inspectors, and children’s officers.

Recommendations for Kenya: Use the new anti-trafficking legislation to prosecute trafficking offenses and convict and punish trafficking offenders, including government officials suspected of complicity in human trafficking; finalize necessary regulations and put in place appropriate structures to implement the victim protection provisions in the anti-trafficking statute; provide additional awareness training to all levels of government, particularly law enforcement officials, on identifying and responding to trafficking crimes; establish an official process for law enforcement officials to refer trafficking victims for assistance; institute trafficking awareness training for diplomats posted overseas; engage foreign governments on improving legal protections for Kenyan workers to render them less vulnerable to trafficking; and approve and implement the national action plan.


The government’s anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts significantly increased during the reporting period; for the first time, it provided statistics on such efforts for inclusion in this report. In July 2010, the Kenyan parliament held its third reading of the Counter-Trafficking in Persons Bill and, in October, the president signed it into law. Section 1 of the Counter-Trafficking in Persons Act (Act 8 of 2010) prohibits all forms of trafficking and Section 3(5) prescribes a sufficiently stringent minimum punishment of 15 years’ imprisonment, which is commensurate with those for other serious crimes, such as rape. Section 3(6) prescribes a minimum punishment of 30 years’ imprisonment for the aggravated offenses of controlling or financing the commission of human trafficking crimes. In addition, Sections 14, 15, and 17 of the Sexual Offenses Act of 2006 prohibit the facilitation of child sex tourism (prescribed punishment of at least 10 years’ imprisonment), child prostitution (prescribed punishment of at least 10 years’ imprisonment), and forced prostitution (prescribed punishment of at least five years’ imprisonment). These sections, however, are not widely used by prosecutors.

The government reported 236 investigations, 10 prosecutions, and six convictions of trafficking offenders during the reporting period, though only two of the convictions actually involved human trafficking offenses. In September 2010, for example, a Nairobi court charged a Tanzanian national and his Kenyan wife under the Children’s Act with utilizing unlawful child labor and illegal harboring, for allegedly abducting children from Tanzania and forcing them to beg on the streets of Nairobi; both were convicted and sentenced to two years’ imprisonment. In June 2010, police in Kitale apprehended a man suspected of trafficking children from Kenya’s Trans-Nzoia and Bungoma Districts to the Sudanese towns of Juba and Torit for use in the sex trade; the status of this case is unknown. Corruption among law enforcement authorities and other public officials continued to hamper efforts to bring traffickers to justice; in certain regions, corrupt police, immigration, or labor officials were complicit in, received bribes to overlook or provide lighter penalties for, or obstructed investigations of human trafficking. The government made no efforts to investigate or prosecute officials suspected of involvement in or facilitation of trafficking during the reporting period. The government did not provide anti-trafficking training to law enforcement officials during the reporting period.


The government increased its identification of trafficking victims and tracking of victim protection data during the year. As guidelines for implementing the victim protection provisions of the anti-trafficking statute have yet to be developed, the government continued to lack both a mechanism for identifying victims of trafficking among vulnerable populations and a formal referral process to transfer victims to NGOs for assistance; it maintained no record of the number of victims referred by government officials to service providers during the year. It reported, however, that police, children’s officers, and labor officers identified 236 trafficking victims in 2010, though it remains unclear how many received protective services. In 2010, the Ministry of Gender, Children, and Social Development’s 450 children’s officers – officials charged with advocating for children’s rights and obtaining services for children in need – coordinated the work of 2,427 local Children’s Advisory Committees, which worked in partnership with police to combat child trafficking, monitor institutions providing services to children, and advance awareness of human trafficking at the local level. During the reporting period, children’s officers also reportedly participated in trafficking investigations and provided counseling to victims. In Mombasa, children’s officers served on the management committee of the Rescue Center, a shelter for sex trafficking victims, and provided case assessments and service referrals for victims. The Ministry of Gender and a local NGO continued to jointly operate a 24-hour toll-free hotline for reporting cases of child trafficking, labor, and abuse. The hotline is located in a government-owned building and staffed, in part, by children’s officers who facilitated rescues and made referrals to appropriate district officials. During the reporting period, the hotline received 100 reports of child trafficking, including child prostitution, and more than 350 related to child labor. In early 2010, the government established a national steering committee to manage the hotline that, in collaboration with an international NGO, opened additional call centers in the North Eastern and Rift Valley Provinces to better connect children with locally-available victim services. The Ministry of Gender also operated four referral centers located in Mombasa, Malindi, Eldoret, and Garissa that provided counseling and guidance services, as well as referrals to other centers for children who could not return home; it is unknown whether these centers provided such services to trafficking victims during the year.

In contrast to its care for child trafficking victims, the government provided few services – including shelter, medical care, or psycho-social counseling – to trafficked adults, with the exception of some Kenyan victims identified in Saudi Arabia. The Kenyan embassy in Riyadh provided assistance, including with repatriation, to at least one victim of domestic servitude during the reporting period; other victims, however, complained that the embassy was slow to intervene in their cases, did not expeditiously process travel documents, and did not provide material support. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which demonstrated greater responsiveness to trafficking issues in 2010 than in previous years, funded travel costs in the amount of $600 for the one victim returning from Saudi Arabia. While the government reports that it encourages Kenyan victims’ assistance in the investigation and prosecution of trafficking crimes during the reporting period, it did not provide information on such instances. It did not inappropriately incarcerate or otherwise penalize identified Kenyan victims for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of being trafficked. Police, however, reportedly arrested foreign trafficking victims for engaging in prostitution or being in Kenya without valid identity documents; in most cases, they pled guilty to immigration violations and were quickly deported. Under the 2010 anti-trafficking law, the Minister of Gender may grant permission for foreign trafficking victims to remain indefinitely in Kenya if it is believed the victim would face hardship or retribution upon repatriation. In 2010, Kenyan police actively cooperated with Ugandan authorities to repatriate both Kenyan and Ugandan child trafficking victims to their respective countries.


The government made progress in its efforts to prevent human trafficking. The National Steering Committee to Combat Human Trafficking, chaired by the Minister of Gender, met three times during the reporting period; however, the five-year National Action Plan on Human Trafficking it drafted in the previous reporting period was not approved in 2010. In addition, the national steering committee formed 32 anti-trafficking sub-committees at the county level that identified cases of abuse and reported them to the local district commissioner. In June 2010, the Ministry of Gender established an Office in Charge of Counter-Trafficking to coordinate the national steering committee, build the capacity of stakeholders, and serve as a liaison between the government and NGOs. During the year, the Ministry of Gender’s Children’s Department conducted an anti-trafficking art and essay campaign, entitled “Stop Child Trafficking,” in educational institutions; religious leaders and parents participated in these programs. In partnership with various donor-funded programs, labor officers, children’s officers, social workers, chiefs, health officials, police, and religious leaders identified and withdrew an unknown number of children from forced labor situations during the reporting period. District-level child labor committees, which exist in approximately 30 out of 180 districts, in conjunction with local Children’s Advisory Committees, raised awareness of child trafficking and labor among local populations. According to the Ministry of Gender, the government successfully prosecuted and punished 2,920 child labor violations during the year, but it failed to provide data regarding which penalties were applied or if the fines were ever collected. The Ministry of Labor, which is required by law to review and attest to all employment contracts for individuals legally migrating to work overseas, verified an unknown number of contracts in 2010; migrant workers, however, often left Kenya before their contracts had been reviewed and approved. In September 2010, the Ministry of Labor convened Kenya’s first tripartite consultative workshop on decent work conditions for domestic workers. The government took measures to reduce its child sex tourism problem by launching a national code of conduct for the tourism sector in April. Also in April, police reported their ongoing investigations of four suspected child sex tourists from the Netherlands, United Kingdom, and Spain and the pending prosecution of a fifth tourist by British courts for child prostitution offenses allegedly committed in Kenya; in 2010, the Government of Kenya spent $75,000 to hire legal representation for the child victims in this case. In 2010, the Malindi Stakeholders Network, chaired by the district commissioner, organized an anti-trafficking music festival for area schools that involved children composing songs on the topic of human trafficking.


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Aoko
    Apr 03, 2012 @ 16:43:29

    Good Job! Keep it up



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