Kenya To Establish Government-Run Shelter For Victims Of Trafficking

Labour and Social Protection Cabinet Secretary Simon Chelugui (center) gives a key note address at National Social Security Fund (NSSF) building during the Commemoration of The World Day Against Trafficking in Persons, July 30, 2020.He is flanked by Principal Secretary, Social Protection Nelson Marwa (left) and Chief Administrative Secretary in the Ministry Patrick Ole-Ntutu. PHOTO | Bonface Malinda

NAIROBI, Kenya – Kenya is set to establish a government-run shelter facility for victims of trafficking, Cabinet Secretary, Labour and Social Protection Simon Chelugui has divulged.

The facility will be used to host victims of the spiralling vice as opposed to the current scenario where most victims of counter-trafficking are held in cells and even at times in prisons’ facilities.

“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.

CS Chelugui made the disclosure when he led the country in commemorating the World Day Against Human Trafficking. He regretted that the most prevalent forms of trafficking in Kenya include labour and sexual exploitation.

Chelugui noted that trafficking in persons is not only a cross-border phenomenon but a domestic crime within the country. He singled out child trafficking from rural areas to urban areas for domestic work.

“It is important to note that the crime of trafficking in persons is not only a cross-border phenomenon but also an internal phenomenon. Here in Kenya, the most prevalent internal trafficking in persons involves child trafficking from rural areas to urban areas for exploitation as domestic workers. From July 2019 to date, 612 cases of child labour have been reported on the Child Protection Information Management System (CPIMS),” he said.

Labour and Social Protection CS Simon Chelugui (right) consults with Principal Secretary, Social Protection Nelson Marwa at National Social Security Fund (NSSF) building during the Commemoration of The World day against Trafficking In Persons, July 30, 2020. PHOTO | Bonface Malinda

The CS acknowledged some of the milestones attained in the fight against human trafficking in Kenya include the rescue of over 1500 victims and securing 61 convictions since 2018. CS Chelugui regretted the higher incidents in the trafficking of persons in Kenya compared to other countries and attributed it to the fact that Kenya is not only a source but also a transit point.

“While trafficking in persons affects all countries, some countries are more vulnerable than others. Even though Kenya has been identified as a source, transit and destination country for cross border trafficking, we have made major strides in this fight against trafficking in persons guided by the globally agreed-upon action plan parameters of Prevention, Protection, Prosecution and Partnerships,” said CS Chelugui.

The CS was flanked by CAS Patrick Ole Ntutu, Principal Secretary, State Department for Social Protection Mr. Nelson Marwa, Chairperson Counter Trafficking in Persons Advisory Committee Mr. George Masese and Chairperson National Assistance Trust Fund for Victims of Trafficking Major Rtd. Marcus Muluvi.

Others who virtually graced the occasion were United States Ambassador to Kenya Kyle McCarter, UK Deputy High Commissioner to Kenya Ms. Susie Kitchens and the Director of Public Prosecutions Noordin Haji.

At the same time the CS divulged the government plans to review existing anti-trafficking laws amid efforts to curb rising cases of human trafficking. The review, he was categorical, aims at ensuring Kenya has a strong, comprehensive and robust anti-trafficking law that will effectively deal with human trafficking.

“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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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