Teresa M.A. Odera, Senior Principal Magistrate | Kenya

Human Trafficking in Kenya A Case for Prevention and Awareness Creation


Human Trafficking is a modern form of slavery involving the illegal trade of people for the purpose of exploitation. This is just a simple definition drawn out of the complex definition from the Palermo Protocol that is adapted by the Republic of Kenya. Human trafficking is a serious crime and is now a matter of global concern as it shames us all in the society. There is a need to put measures in place for prevention and awareness of the same.

Prevention and Awareness of Human Trafficking

Each citizen and duty bearer at national and county level has a role, responsibility and obligation to end human trafficking. Sometimes, just being cautious and making sure you don’t fall victim to human trafficking surely helps in reducing human trafficking. We all need to create awareness and inform all people from all walks of life on how to prevent themselves from being trafficked and on how to migrate safely. One can engage in lobbying and advocacy against human trafficking in their areas of residence and jurisdiction. Some of us can volunteer our time to such institutions and offer our skills and time in fighting human trafficking.

We must inform individuals that they are victims of a crime when they are exploited by a trafficker and we have the law which supports them and that they can get assistance from different institutions such as HAART, one of the leading civil society organizations in the fight against Human Trafficking in the country.

We must report cases of human trafficking to the authorities whenever we come across them. This will also greatly help, since we will have records which can show statistics of trafficking cases from different regions and countries.

There is need to inform women, children, youth, persons living with disability as well as men in our communities about the dangers of Human Trafficking and how they can fight against this vice. There is need to educate citizens on how to handle survivors of trafficking once they come back to our communities. What the victims of human trafficking need is empathy, love and support and not feel that for them not to have come back home with material resources or lots of money makes them un-useful to the community.

One can donate money to initiatives that are geared towards ending this crime. We need to form a network that will be effective in communicating what needs to be done to fight human trafficking in different parts of the country and county. A team has to be selected to be in charge of communication and updates to the group. Contact people that the group could always rely on and that can represent the team whenever called upon.

Each of us should be able to understand what is happening in each country in regards to the fight against human trafficking from updates from individuals from the different regions. We need to come up with a platform where we can all be able to link and share ideas from our best practice in our areas on how to combat human trafficking.

There is a need to bring education and awareness to the issue of human trafficking in schools, churches and in the community. It takes an Anti-human Trafficking Champion in every community to help abolish the crisis of human trafficking and domestic minor sex trafficking. We should establish anti-trafficking clubs in every school and education institution at the village, ward, and sub-county, county and national levels. For us to succeed in the fight against human trafficking we require commitment from parent, teachers and community pro-active engagement and involvement so as to reduce risk behaviors and vulnerability among children, women and students.

Human trafficking is a plague for any community, urban area, municipality or city infected by it. If we are going to generate the mass support necessary to eradicate human trafficking, we will need to help the general public realize the true gravity of modern day slavery; slavery existing in their world, and address the myths that could hinder their full investment into the solution.

We will also need to build strategic partnerships across villages, wards, sub counties, counties and regions as well as cross-border linkages and networks among state actors, particularly law enforcement agencies and non-state actors.

There is need to create networks of volunteers from different organizations and key informants working at the grass root level. These networks and partnerships will help in the referral of cases of victims and will greatly help anti-trafficking organizations and law enforcement agencies identify the perpetrators of human trafficking in the community.

In addition to bold intervention strategies, we will need to start moving up-stream and implement some preventative measure to ensure that our children are not easy prey for traffickers. This is a monumental task, but with the right team it can be done; communities can be educated and soft targets can be strengthened to avoid vulnerability. In Kenya the average age of a human trafficking victim is approximately 12-14 years old. If we concentrate our efforts on strengthening the support system of the primary targets of the trafficking, then we will inevitably weaken both the supply and demand of the industry.

We should also widely use social sites like WhatsApp, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and websites to inform the public on human trafficking and also get referrals of victims and even assist people who are stuck in homes or other situations but have access to the internet. We believe that with more awareness on the crime to both the government officials and the general public we will have more cases being taken to court.

There is a need to rescue and return students to school and educational institutions so that their dreams may be realized through this rehabilitation process and they are guaranteed a second chance in life. We should establish rescue centres and safe spaces in each county to provide shelter for vulnerable cadres and survivors of human trafficking, especially women, girls and children.

There is a need to engage in media publicity campaigns on anti-human trafficking to coincide with the annual commemoration of the World Day Against Trafficking in Persons on 30 July. This day should be marked in each county by survivors of human trafficking, law enforcement agencies, civil society organizations and stakeholders in the criminal justice system at national and county levels. The National Government, in collaboration with the 47 County Governments, should make efforts to improve protective services provided to trafficking victims and survivors. The National Government and County Governments, in collaboration with non-state actors, should publicly highlight the dangers of human trafficking and taking steps to combat the vice at all levels.

The National Government of Kenya should encourage victims’ assistance in the investigation and prosecution of trafficking crimes, and ensure that they are not inappropriately incarcerated or otherwise penalized for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of being trafficked. The National Government of Kenya should also provide legal alternatives and logistical support through its State Department of Foreign Affairs for the evacuation or removal of victims to countries where they would face hardship or retribution. Prosecutors, probation and Children’s officers throughout the Country should be trained and involved in trafficking investigations and provided counseling and follow-up to child trafficking victims.

We all have seen in our communities, extended and nuclear families how our fathers and brothers become protective of their daughters or sisters whenever a boy or a man tries to get into a relationship with them. They will go to all lengths to ensure that the boy has the right intentions. If the world would get rid of its greed and have love for everyone as the fathers and brothers do, then this world would be a better place. With the youth being the future for tomorrow let us become the change we want to see. You will do everything to protect your child, brother, sister: let’s do the same to all the other people because they are someone else’s brother, daughter and child.

Thank you for the audience, aluta continua.