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Tracing New Human Trafficking Routes In Kenya

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A new report has identified additional smuggling routes, once again revealing Kenya’s intricate web of extensive criminal activity with well-established local and international networks.

The report comes barely three months after the US Trafficking in Persons Report 2020, placed Kenya in the list of countries with the worst human trafficking trends in the world.

The ‘Kenya’s – Human Trafficking Routes 2020 report released in September, confirms that human trafficking is prevalent in Kenya and the unrelenting traffickers are casting their nets wider to identify new routes to prey on more victims.

According to the report, Finland and Somaliland are additional countries of origin of victims while Ethiopia, Namibia, Thailand, Turkey, Greece, Italy, Netherlands and Rwanda are additional destinations with Kenya still used as a transit point for the new entrants.

The joint report between Stop the Traffik Kenya and Freedom Collaborative further shows that the syndicates collude with different law enforcement and immigration departments to transport victims through, from and to Kenya – the main reason the country is marked as a source, destination and transit hotspot for human trafficking.

“As noted in the data submissions, corruption at border points is common with officers complicit in preparing and providing fake documents for victims, which allow them to cross,” the report reads.

The study identified 17 transit routes used to smuggle victims through Kenya from other countries. They include Busia, Nambale, Rongo and Malaba (western Kenya bordering Uganda), Garissa, Moyale, Mandera, Kismayo, Liboi and Marsabit (North Eastern Kenya bordering Somalia and Ethiopia), Mwingi and Isiolo in the eastern part connected to the northern frontier. Others routes identified are Isebania, Namanga, Kwale, Taveta and Mombasa (connecting Kenya to Tanzania).

As a country of origin, Kenyans are still trafficked to Saudi Arabia, Germany, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Lebanon, and India. The victims are largely from Busia, Dadaab Camp (refugees), Eldoret, Kitale, Kitui, Kwale, Lunga Lunga, Malaba, Malindi, Mombasa, Nairobi, Namanga, and Taita-Taveta.

The report indicates that Nairobi’s Eastleigh, Kisumu, Mombasa and Mandera are the focal destination points in Kenya for victims trafficked from Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, India, Nepal, Rwanda, Somaliland, Tanzania and Uganda.

It was established that Kenya is connected to seven cross regional routes that allow movement of victims of trafficking. These include Regional Migration within East Africa (32 routes), East Africa to the Middle East (29), East Africa to Europe (10), East Africa to Asia (5), East Africa to North Africa (2) and Asia to Kenya (3).

A route from Helsinki, Finland to Addis Ababa in Ethiopia was a strange movement of victims from Europe to Kenya discovered, making it the seventh point of connection.

“While this may seem unusual, the contributing organisation confirmed that this information comes from cases they are currently working on,” the report says. “In these cases, recruiters pose as husbands but they end up abusing the victim once they arrive at their destination in Ethiopia.”

The findings illustrate that multiple modes of transportation are used to move victims in an organized way including using local and international flights, public buses and personal vehicles.

“Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi, but also Mombasa Airport, are major transit hubs for migration from East Africa to the Middle East, Europe and Asia. Migrants from the region, as well as different counties in Kenya, travel by road to Nairobi or Mombasa to board a flight for their onward journey,” a similar report done in 2019 echoed.

Poverty and the search for employment remain the main causative factors that precipitate vulnerability of victims recruited to take up jobs in the hotel industry and domestic work but end up being exploited.

“Victims from Kenya are exploited in many different industries, most frequently in domestic work, commercial sex, hospitality and food services, marriage, and begging,” says the report.

Family members, relatives and close friends are cited as recruiters and enablers. They dupe their gullible kin under the guise of giving them a better life and profitable opportunities – the main motivator phrase used in the human trafficking trap.

But in some instances, the study reveals, recruitment takes place using deception, threat and fraud especially in refugee camps.

“Other known details on recruitment include a method in which traffickers target aid workers in the Dadaab camp for information on potential victims to be trafficked or smuggled; they then pick vulnerable young girls looking for better opportunities in cities such as Nairobi,” states the report.

The fishing spree for victims also involves preying on persons living with disability for various purposes including harvesting their body organs, “they falsely promise them corrective surgery in Nairobi and a better life. On the route to Libya, traffickers also identify victims for organ harvesting.”

As part of its recommendation, the study is advising for the training of the Kenya Airports Authority, immigration officers and airline industry actors to help in the identification of victims and referral of cases for further investigations.

Relevant organizations including state actors are further urged to use the data collected and collaborate to redouble their response to the ever changing and tactical human trafficking criminal networks.

“The data set now shows a number of locations from which victims were recruited and from where they departed. This data should be used to evaluate current prevention and outreach activities, identify gaps, and coordinate civil society organization services for these locations,” the report concludes.

 

Judie Kaberia is a fellow of the Resilience Fund of the Global Initiative against Transnational Organized Crime

 

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Crime

Police Nubs 26 Drunk Drivers During Curfew

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On Sunday, June 20, Rwanda National Police (RNP) paraded to the media 26 people, who were arrested in different parts of City of Kigali over driving while drunk and violating the curfew.

They were paraded at Nyarugenge District Police Unit offices in Rwezamenyo Sector.

RNP spokesperson, CP John Bosco Kabera said that all the 26 were arrested in a span of four days, (June 16 to June 19) in Kigali.

“Some of them were driving while drunk during prohibited movement hours. They are knowingly violating traffic rules and setting a bad example because they are drivers with driving permit,” CP Kabera said.

He added: “There is no exception in respecting traffic rules and observing Covid-19 guidelines. Alcohol is not prohibited but when you drink you must not drive. Again, if you want to drink, we expect you to drink from your home but it looks like these people were in prohibited social gatherings from where they had their drinks and went on to drive while drunk and violated the curfew.”

Patrick Mazimpaka, one of the suspects said he was arrested at about 9:10pm.

He added that he had taken a local brew called Kambuca.

A taxi-moto operator, who only identified himself as Emmanuel, said that he was arrested on June 19, in Kibagabaga Sector, Gasabo District.

He claimed that he was not drunk but admitted that driving while drunk is a “fatal decision.”

CP Kabera cautioned of strengthened operations against anyone flouting the government directives and violating traffic regulations including drunk-driving.

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Crime

Hackers Approve 18 Buildings in Nairobi

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Un identified hackers have conducted a daring move and approved at least 18 illegal building in Kenya’s capital Nairobi.

The illegal approvals were made after hackers found their way into Nairobi County’s online development plan system according to Nairobi Metropolitan Services (NMS).

“The hacking paved the way for illegal building approvals to be made and there were 18 illegal approvals done when the system was hacked into, forcing us to suspend it,” said NMS Director-General Mohamed Badi.

He said that hackers were City Hall staff who collude with outsiders to do the illegal approvals.

“The hackers are not strangers or outsiders but retired county staff who had access to the system and are now working with outsiders to do illegal approvals. It’s unfortunate that desperate city residents landed in the hands of these conniving dealers and got illegal approvals,” he added.

Mr Badi made it clear that NMS will not allow the construction of buildings which have not been approved by the Nairobi City County Urban Planning Technical Committee.

“City residents have suffered in the hands of conmen but unfortunately as NMS we will not allow a single building to go up without the proper approval by the technical committee on urban planning. We shall go for it and bring it down,” he said.

However, the NMS boss said they have now sealed the loopholes after bringing in experts from the Ministry of ICT as well as security agencies.

“We handed over the e-construction system to the experts to look into the situation. It took us almost two weeks to close those loopholes,” said Mr Badi.

Last week, NMS suspended approval of development plans in Nairobi after the Quick Response (QR) code system, which is part of the e-construction development plans application system used for the application of building plans and construction permits, was hacked into.

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Crime

Rwanda Prosecution Seeks Life Sentence For Paul Rusesabagina

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Embatled terrorist Paul Rusesabagina may get booked a life sentence if court agrees to a request by prosecution.

Rusesabagina is battling nine charges, including terrorism, financing terrorism, recruiting child soldiers, kidnapping, arson, and forming terrorist groups.

According to current details, Rusesabagina has been found guilty of all the charges which would collectively fetch him 170 years in prison.

However, under the Rwandan law, court would opt for the highest punishment in Rusesabagina’s situation and that would be a life sentence.

Rusesabagina Crimes

In reference to Rwanda’s prosecution, Rusesabagina is accused of creating and being part of an irregular armed group, financing terrorism, terror activities for political gains, conspiracy to commit terror activities, commanding terror acts and being part of a terrorist group.

He has also been battling the charge of conspiracy and encouraging others to join a terror group, conspiracy to murder, conspiracy to kidnap, conspiracy to armed robbery, conspiracy to commit arson, conspiracy to aggravated assault and conspiracy to conscript children in an armed group.

All these criminal charges can only fetch Rusesabagina a life sentence as the highest punishment for the gravity of his crimes.

For decades, Rusesabagina had eluded the long arm of the Law as he enjoyed protection in Europe and the United States where his adulterated story of 1994 inspired a Holly Wood movie Hotel Rwanda.

Rusesabagina who for long enjoyed a sexed up hero status due to Hotel Rwanda Movie, founded of the ‘National Liberation Forces (FLN)’, an armed terrorist organisation under his Rwandan Movement for Democratic Change (MRCD).

Last year in August, Rusesabagina was arrested and eventually produced before both local and international media.

Rwanda Investigation Bureau (RIB) said Rusesabagina a high profile catch was arrested “through international cooperation”.

However, Rusesabagina’s manner and process of his arrest has triggered a lot of debate across the world but Rwanda doesn’t find any problem with it.

President Paul Kagame who recently spoke to Radio France Internationale was tasked to explain the mysterious arrest of Rusesabagina.

“What’s wrong with tricking a criminal you’re looking for? When you get him, where do you put him? If he’s in a court of law, that’s OK,” Kagame said, adding that he had not been hidden somewhere.

The US, European Union and UN have consistently claimed that Rusesabagina would not get a fair trial in Rwanda but President Kagame has a responce.

“I want to see a fair trial myself. Why do you think being fair belongs to Europe or US or to anybody, not to us?” asked Kagame.

“It’s like the only thing to be fair in Rwanda or in Africa has to be supervised by the US or some other place. No. Absolutely not,” he added.

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