[ Country-by-Country Reports ]

KENYA (TIER 2)   [Extracted from U.S. State Dept Trafficking in Persons Report, June 2009]

Kenya is a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children trafficked for the purposes of forced labor and sexual exploitation. Kenyan children are trafficked within the country for domestic servitude, forced labor in agriculture (including on flower plantations), cattle herding, in bars, and for commercial sexual exploitation, including involvement in the coastal sex tourism industry. In 2008, internally displaced persons residing in camps as a result of post-election violence reportedly were trafficked within the country. Kenyan men, women, and children are trafficked to the Middle East, other East African nations, and Europe for domestic servitude, exploitation in massage parlors and brothels, and forced manual labor, including in the construction industry. Employment agencies facilitate and profit from the trafficking of Kenyan nationals to Middle Eastern nations, notably Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Lebanon. Children are trafficked to Kenya from Burundi, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Somalia, Tanzania, and Uganda for forced labor and commercial sexual exploitation. Most trafficked girls are forced to work as barmaids, where they are vulnerable to sexual exploitation, or are forced directly into prostitution. Ethiopian and Somali refugees residing in camps and Nairobi’s Eastleigh section are particularly vulnerable to trafficking. Chinese, Indian, and Pakistani women reportedly transit Nairobi en route to exploitation in Europe’s commercial 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. Post-election violence and the subsequent government reorganization delayed a number of anti-trafficking initiatives, such as the enactment of anti-trafficking legislation and the passage of a draft national action plan. While local-level law enforcement officials across the country continued to arrest and charge alleged traffickers throughout the year, prosecutions failed to progress and data on such cases was not compiled at the provincial or national level. In addition, the government did not allocate adequate resources dedicated to anti-trafficking measures during the reporting period.

Recommendations for Kenya: Pass, enact, and implement the draft comprehensive anti-trafficking law; provide additional awareness training to all levels of government, particularly law enforcement officials, on identifying and responding to trafficking crimes; increase efforts to prosecute trafficking offenses and convict and punish trafficking offenders; establish an official process for law enforcement officials to refer trafficking victims for assistance; and institute trafficking awareness training for diplomats posted overseas.

The government failed to punish acts of trafficking during the reporting period, though it demonstrated continued efforts to investigate trafficking offenses and charge alleged offenders. Kenya does not prohibit all forms of trafficking, though it criminalizes the trafficking of children and adults for sexual exploitation through Sections 13 to 15 and 18 of the Sexual Offenses Act of 2006, which prescribes minimum sentences of from 10 to 15 years’ imprisonment, penalties that are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with those for other grave crimes; however, the law is not widely used by prosecutors. The Employment Act of 2007 outlaws forced labor and contains additional statutes relevant to labor trafficking. In February 2009, the Parliament passed a motion to introduce the Counter Trafficking in Persons Bill, the first step toward enactment of comprehensive human trafficking legislation.

The Department of Public Prosecutions reported three ongoing investigations for trafficking-related offenses and no prosecutions during the reporting period; the department was unable to produce data on the number of charges related to trafficking filed during the year. Despite this inability to gather and disseminate information at the national level, district courts reportedly heard several trafficking cases during the reporting period. In June 2008, the Loitokitok District Court arraigned a Kenyan woman on charges of trafficking a 17-year old Ugandan girl to her home for domestic servitude and subjecting her to cruelty; further details on this case were unavailable. In October 2008, two women were charged in a Nairobi court with forcing two young girls into prostitution. In March 2009, 119 parents and guardians of 209 children were charged in an Eldoret court with abusing their children by removing them from school and forcing them to work as domestic servants. In addition, the government cooperated with the United Kingdom, Ireland, and INTERPOL in the investigation and prosecution of at least two transnational trafficking cases involving Kenyan children during the reporting period. Laws against forced labor were not well enforced, though in June 2008, the Ministry of Labor raided and shut down an unregistered recruitment agency that was illegally sending Kenyan migrant workers to Dubai. With the assistance of NGO lecturers, the Kenya Police Training College provided anti-trafficking and child protection training to police recruits during their training as cadets. Corruption among law enforcement authorities and other public officials continued to hamper efforts to bring traffickers to justice; anti-trafficking activists made credible claims that, in certain regions, corrupt police or border officials were complicit in 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 Kenyan government sustained minimal but inadequate victim protection efforts throughout the year. The government lacked a formal referral process to transfer victims to NGOs for assistance and it maintained no record of the number of victims referred on an ad hoc basis to NGO service providers by government officials during the year. In 2008, the Ministry of Gender, Children, and Social Development hired an additional 160 Children’s Officers – officials charged with advocating for children’s rights and obtaining services for children in need – bringing the total number to 333. During the reporting period, several Children’s Officers posted throughout the country participated in trafficking investigations and provided counseling and follow-up to child trafficking victims. In addition, Children’s Officers served on the management committee of the Rescue Center, a shelter for sex trafficking victims in Mombasa, and provided case assessments and service referrals for sex trafficking victims. City Council Social Services Departments in Nairobi, Mombasa, and Kisumu operated shelters to rehabilitate street children vulnerable to forced labor and commercial sexual exploitation; the shelters did not maintain records identifying trafficking victims among children undergoing rehabilitation. The government encouraged Kenyan victims’ assistance in the investigation and prosecution of trafficking crimes, and ensured that they were not inappropriately incarcerated or otherwise penalized for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of being trafficked. Police, however, reportedly arrested foreign trafficking victims for being in Kenya without valid identity documents; in most cases, they pled guilty to immigration violations and were quickly deported. The government did not provide legal alternatives to the removal of victims to countries where they would face hardship or retribution.

The Government of Kenya made modest progress in its efforts to prevent human trafficking by publicly highlighting the dangers of human trafficking during the reporting period. Increased awareness within the government at all levels, however, remained inadequate for fostering better cooperation with civil society and strengthening public education efforts. After the government’s reorganization in April 2008, the newly created Ministry of Gender, Children, and Social Development became the lead agency in the government’s anti-trafficking efforts. In May 2008, the ministry and an NGO launched a 24-hour toll-free hotline enabling citizens to report cases of child trafficking, labor, and abuse; the hotline is located in a government-owned building and staffed, in part, by three Children’s Officers who facilitated rescues and made referrals to appropriate district officials. Government ministers and Kenya’s First Lady highlighted the human trafficking issue in public engagements, including the government’s celebration of the Day of the African Child in June. Individual labor officers, children’s officers, social workers, chiefs, health officials, police, religious leaders, and NGOs identified and withdrew children from forced labor situations during the reporting period. In 2008, Coast Province’s regions of Mombasa, South Coast, and Taita-Taveta formed anti-trafficking networks comprised of government officials and civil society representatives. There were no reports of the Kenyan government’s efforts to provide anti-trafficking training for its troops before deployment on international peacekeeping missions.