“Kenya is a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking.”

That is how the annual Trafficking In Persons (TIP) report’s section on Kenya starts. The 2015 report was released a few days ago just in time for the World Day against Trafficking in Persons on the 30th July 2015. The big news this year is that after three years on the Tier 2 Watch List, Kenya has been upgraded to Tier 2. That means that Kenya now, according to the US State Department, do not fully comply with the Trafficking Victims Protection Act’s minimum standards, but are making significant efforts to bring themselves into compliance with those standards.

Click on the image to read the 2015 TIP report for Kenya.

Click on the image to read the 2015 TIP report for Kenya.

Some of the achievements that are mentioned, are that the Kenyan government has increased the identification of victims of trafficking as well as prosecution of traffickers. According to the report, 65 trafficking cases were prosecuted and 33 traffickers convicted. However, a quick note to that report is that we have not heard of any of these prosecutions in the press or through any of our partners, it would be good if there is a bit more transparency. It would also be good to know if the prosecutions are based on the Counter Trafficking in Persons Act from 2010 or other related laws. We have not heard of any successful convictions based on the Act, but we would love to learn more about it. The government identified 658 child trafficking cases and at least 12 adult trafficking cases exploited overseas. Regarding the 12 cases is a bit lacking as we identified 31 victims of trafficking together with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in December 2014 who had all been exploited in Libya. This underlines the poor information sharing and general confusion when it comes to human trafficking in Kenya.

The report also highlights the establishment of the Counter Trafficking Advisory Committee which is chaired by our partner The Cradle – the Children Foundation and the launch of the National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking. These activities show a heightened effort of the Kenyan government to take action against human trafficking. However, there are many areas that are still lacking, especially when it comes to providing comprehensive assistance to victims of trafficking, and especially adult victims of trafficking. There are few if any safe houses dedicated to victims of trafficking, the area of human trafficking is still embarrassingly underfunded and although the government assist with repatriation, the assistance usually end when the victim reach the airport in Kenya as seen in the quote below:

“The Kenyan embassy in Muscat assisted with the repatriation of a Kenyan woman from Oman; however, the government failed to provide the victim any assistance upon her return to Kenya. Generally, the government lacked a unified system for providing access to medical aid, shelter, counseling, or financial assistance to adult nationals who were repatriated.”

We saw the same pattern when we worked together with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) to rescue the women in Libya. Although the MoFA did an excellent job in bringing back the women from Libya, there was a lack of response from the government when they arrived in Kenya, so the shelter, reintegration, psychosocial support etc. was instead provided by ourselves together with IOM.

On this day, the World Day against Trafficking in Persons, we must all remember the victims of human trafficking. For instance, there was recently a report out of Kisumu of how underage girls are trafficked into the sex trade in Kisumu and sold for 50 shillings or boys that are trafficked into violent extremism. Victims are robbed of their innocence and exploited in cruel and inhumane ways. Join the global campaign to commemorate this day with the #Igivehope campaign on social media. You can also come to our Arts to End Slavery event tonight, click on the image below for details.

Click on the image for information on how to RSVP.