(Sep. 24, 2010) The CRADLE expresses concern the continuing delay in assenting to the law to address human trafficking in Kenya. Kenya continues to be a thriving ground for trafficking in persons especially children. Indeed Kenya is a country of origin, transit and destination of victims of trafficking. Recent media highlights and increasing reporting of cases of trafficking attests to this fact, (The Standard, Sep. 23, 2010 at page 22, ‘Suspect held trafficking ten children’, and the Daily Nation, Sep. 22, 2010 at page 10, ‘Couple admits using five disabled Tanzanian children to beg for alms.’ ) not mentioning other reports in both print and electronic media.
The alarming rate of reported cases is an indication of the thriving environment for this vice in Kenya. Kenya has been cited before for not making enough efforts to address the problem. However, positive developments were made when Parliament on July 15, 2010 passed the Counter Trafficking in Persons Act, which, sadly has, since been waiting for the presidential assent.
This delay will continue impacting on the country negatively especially the victims and potential victims of trafficking especially children. Furthermore, even the cases that are already reported can only be dealt with the current law since the Act will not be applied retrospectively. In the case of the couple that admitted to using the children to beg for alms, were the law in place, the couple would be liable for committing the offence of child trafficking in addition to any other charges such as child labour. However, the current law is very restrictive, and lenient to offenders. As highlighted in the media in the instant case, the prosecution had recourse only to the offence of subjecting a child to labour whose penalty is a fine of Ksh. 50,000 or jail term of not more than 12 months and harbouring a foreigner which attracts a penalty of Ksh. 20,000 fine or a one-year jail term. Our hands are therefore tied in pushing for effective prosecution where the law is weak and without the Counter Trafficking in Persons Act in place.
The CRADLE urges the President to promptly assent to the Counter Trafficking in Persons Act in order to pave way for structured measures for dealing with human trafficking. In particular, we need more protection and redress for victims for which the Act provides and increased empowerment of the relevant government bodies to take up preventative measures. Kenya also needs a law that will provide stiffer penalties that are commensurate with the nature of the offence of trafficking in persons. The piecemeal provisions in the Children Act, the Sexual Offences Act, the Penal Code and the Employment Act are limited in terms of the prescribed offences and corresponding penalties. They also do not provide for measures for supporting victims of human trafficking. The Counter Trafficking in Persons Act will cure these gaps and will be a step further for Kenya to meeting its treaty obligations as enunciated in such treaties and protocol as the United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime and its Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children (Palermo Protocol) and the Convention on the Rights of the Child which defines standards for child protection and development.
We thank the media for their continued reporting on matters of public interest and especially for the promotion of the welfare of the child, particularly the consistent momentum in highlighting the issue of child trafficking.