KENYA: IOM Welcomes Passage of 2010 Counter Trafficking in Persons Act

NAIROBI, October 29, 2010 (CISA) -The Government of Kenya has signed into law new legislation to crack down on human traffickers and offer protection to trafficking victims in Kenya.

The law which was signed by President Mwai Kibaki last week slaps a 30 year jail term or a hefty fine of 30 million Kenyan Shillings (USD 370,000) on convicted traffickers, sending a stern warning to individuals who engage in this illegal trade.  IOM provided technical and financial assistance in drafting the new law as part of the “Counter-trafficking through Capacity Building, Awareness Raising and Assistance to Victims Programme” funded by the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Kenya.

Other partners who contributed to the bill include the Childrens Foundation the CRADLE, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the Attorney Generals Office, Childrens Department in the Ministry of Gender, the Law Reform Commission, the Federation of Women Lawyers of Kenya (FIDA-K) and the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR).

“This legislation represents a significant new tool for Kenya in counter-trafficking law enforcement” says IOMs counter trafficking expert Tal Raviv.  Although previous legislation under the 2001 Childrens Act and 2006 Sexual Offences Act addressed the issue of trafficking, neither law comprehensively defines the criminal nature of human trafficking as stipulated in the UN Palermo Protocol, signed by Kenya in 2005.

Under the new law, trafficking in persons is legally defined and recognized for the first time, as a distinct crime in Kenya. National counter trafficking efforts have until now been focused on prevention and protection of victims with limited prosecution of traffickers within the existing legal framework.

“We hope that the new Counter Trafficking in Persons Act will create momentum to expand counter-trafficking initiatives in accordance with the 2008-2013 National Plan of Action (NPA)” notes Tal Raviv. The Action Plan includes activities such as supporting school retention rates as a preventive measure, conducting information outreach to targeted populations, and reducing vulnerability by supporting socio-economic development and empowerment in vulnerable communities.

Other efforts include putting in place systems and procedures for a national referral mechanism and strengthening the capacity of law enforcement agencies and the judiciary to protect victims and prosecute offenders. In addition to supporting drafting of the new law, IOM has also provided technical support to the Ministry of Labour to strengthen labour migration practices and to the Kenya Association of Private Employment Agencies (KAPEA) to promote ethical recruitment practices that do not contribute to human trafficking. IOM also provided media training to enhance investigative and reporting capacities and encourage coverage of human trafficking and related issues.