Office To Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons

KENYA: Tier 2

Kenya is a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking. Within the country, children are forced to labor in domestic service, agriculture, fishing, cattle herding, street vending, and begging. Children—both girls and boys—are also exploited in prostitution throughout Kenya, including in the coastal sex tourism industry; at times, their prostitution is facilitated by women in prostitution, “beach boys,” and sometimes family members. Children are exploited in prostitution by those working in sectors such as khat (a mild narcotic) cultivation areas, near Nyanza’s gold mines, along the coast by truck drivers transporting stones from quarries, and by fishermen on Lake Victoria. Kenyans voluntarily migrate to other East African nations, South Sudan, Angola, Europe, the United States, and the Middle East—particularly Saudi Arabia and Oman—in search of employment, where at times they are exploited in domestic servitude, massage parlors and brothels, or forced manual labor. Gay and bisexual Kenyan men are lured from universities with promises of overseas jobs, but are forced into prostitution in Qatar and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Nairobi-based labor recruiters maintain networks in Uganda that recruit Rwandan and Ugandan workers through fraudulent offers of employment in the Middle East and Asia. Kenyan women are subjected to forced prostitution in Thailand by Ugandan and Nigerian traffickers.

Children from East Africa and South Sudan are subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking in Kenya; Kenyan children may endure similar exploitation in these countries. Kenya’s largest refugee camp complex, Dadaab, hosts hundreds of thousands of refugees and asylum seekers, and the security situation limits some humanitarian access, assistance, and protective services. Some Somali refugees reported the presence of al-Shabaab recruiters; a 2012 survey by a local NGO found fear of recruitment, especially of children, into this armed group was a concern of a small percentage of respondents. Some children in Kenya-based refugee camps may endure sex trafficking, while others are taken from the camps and forced to work on tobacco farms. Trucks transporting goods from Kenya to Somalia returned to Kenya with young girls and women subsequently placed into brothels in Nairobi or Mombasa. Indian women recruited to work in mujra dance clubs in Nairobi face debt bondage, which they are forced to pay off by dancing and performing sex acts.

The Government of Kenya does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. For the first time since it came into effect in October 2012, the government made robust efforts to implement the Counter-Trafficking in Persons Act. In August 2014, the government established the Counter-Trafficking in Persons Advisory Committee (advisory committee), as mandated by the act, which met regularly and updated Kenya’s national action plan. The government reported prosecution of 65 trafficking cases, more than double than in the previous reporting period, and conviction of 33 traffickers, a significant increase from seven in 2013. In 2014, the government identified 658 child trafficking victims in 18 of Kenya’s 47 counties. In September 2014, as an attempt to better regulate overseas labor recruitment, the government revoked all accredited certificates issued to private employment recruitment agencies. The Ministry of Labor (MOL) established a new process for agencies sourcing jobs abroad, requiring their approval of contracts in advance of workers’ departure for employment overseas. The government identified at least 12 adult trafficking victims exploited overseas and assisted in their repatriation. Nonetheless, the government failed to provide adequate protective services to adult victims subjected to trafficking within the country or identified in situations of forced labor or prostitution overseas. In September 2014, the government passed the Victim Protection Act which improves support to trafficking victims, including the establishment of a fund. Government funding remained inadequate in light of Kenya’s significant trafficking problem.


Continue using the Counter-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2010 to investigate and prosecute trafficking offenses, and convict and punish trafficking offenders, including government officials suspected of complicity in human trafficking; continue to use the anti-trafficking law or Section 14 of the Sexual Offenses Act to prosecute and punish child sex tourists; provide additional training to all levels of the government, particularly first-line responders, on identifying and handling trafficking crimes; allocate adequate resources to police, labor, and social services staff to ensure implementation of the prosecution and protection mandates within the Counter-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2010; implement a formal process for law enforcement officials to refer trafficking victims for assistance; continue to increase oversight of and accountability for overseas recruitment agencies; increase protective services available to adult trafficking victims, particularly those identified in and returned from the Middle East; establish the board of trustees to oversee the National Assistance Trust Fund for Victims of Trafficking and allocate money to endow this fund; allocate resources to the victim assistance fund mandated by the Victim Protection Act; and develop a unified system to collect and analyze trafficking case data for use by all stakeholders.


The government demonstrated significant progress in anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts. Section 1 of the Counter-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2010, which came into force in September 2012, prohibits all forms of trafficking and Section 3(5) prescribes a sufficiently stringent minimum punishment of 15 years’ imprisonment, which is commensurate with that of other serious crimes, such as rape. Sections 14, 15, and 17 of the Sexual Offenses Act of 2006 prohibit the facilitation of child sex tourism, child prostitution, and forced prostitution, and prescribe penalties of six to 20 years’ imprisonment—penalties that are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with those prescribed for other serious offenses. However, prosecutors rarely pursue cases under these provisions of the act.

The government reported 65 prosecutions of trafficking offenses and 33 convictions during the reporting period. Seventeen cases remained pending at the end of the reporting period, while six cases were withdrawn, one case was pending arrest of the suspect, and one case ended in an acquittal. The government did not track efforts to investigate trafficking crimes during the reporting period, and did not establish a nation-wide data collection system to assist in these efforts.

The government did not report any investigations, prosecutions, or convictions of government employees complicit in human trafficking; however, corruption at all levels of the government remained a concern. During the reporting period, the government cooperated with foreign governments in the investigation of potential sex and labor trafficking crimes. In one case, the government arrested a Kenyan citizen who exploited minors in prostitution on the coast; the case remained pending trial at the end of the reporting period. The Department of Child Services (DCS), in partnership with international organizations and NGOs, provided training on the anti-trafficking act to 30 Kenyan security personnel operating in Mombasa, where the trafficking of children and child sexual exploitation remained an issue. During the reporting period, over 200 officials received anti-trafficking training. A considerable portion of the training received by government officials was initiated and funded by international organizations or foreign donors; training provided by the government during the reporting period remained insufficient in light of Kenya’s considerable human trafficking problem.


The government increased efforts to protect child trafficking victims, but efforts to identify and assist adult victims remained weak. It identified at least 12 adult victims of forced labor exploitation overseas, in addition to 658 internal child trafficking victims; 555 had been exploited in forced labor, 39 had been sexually exploited, and the exploitation endured by the remaining 64 was unknown. DCS children’s officers continued to participate in investigations, rescue child trafficking victims, and provide them with counseling and ad hoc referrals to service providers.

DCS and a local NGO continued to jointly operate a national 24-hour toll-free hotline for reporting cases of child trafficking, labor, and abuse. The hotline’s main call center was located in a government-owned building in Nairobi. During the reporting period, the hotline received 46 reports of child trafficking, 26 of which reportedly included labor exploitation, 18 included sexual exploitation, and the remaining two were unknown. DCS continued to operate eight drop-in referral centers in Eldoret, Garissa, Malindi, Siaya, Kakamega, Nairobi, Nakuru, and Mombasa that provided counseling, guidance, and referrals to other centers for an unknown number of victimized children, including trafficking victims, who could not return to their homes. DCS also funded and operated four rescue centers in Garissa, Malindi, Thika, and Machakos where child victims of violence, including trafficking victims, could stay for three months before returning home or being referred to NGO facilities. One additional rescue center remained incomplete and was not operational by the end of the reporting period. The government did not provide data on how many trafficking victims were assisted in these centers during the year.

In September 2014, the government passed the Victim Protection Act, which improves support to trafficking victims including accommodation, food, medical treatment, psycho-social care, police protection, and the establishment of a fund; however, it is unclear what efforts officials made to begin implementation of these measures. While efforts to assist and care for child trafficking victims remained strong, the government provided relatively few services to adult trafficking victims identified within the country or abroad. Kenya’s diplomatic missions made moderate efforts to assist Kenyan national trafficking victims. The government identified and provided repatriation assistance to 11 adult victims of forced labor in Angola; the government collaborated with the Angolan government on the investigation of the alleged trafficking network involved. Additionally, 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. Media reported those waiting to be repatriated slept on the floor of the embassy or in a shipping container and were provided inadequate food. The government confirmed the posting of one additional immigration officer to its embassies in the UAE and Saudi Arabia and expansion of consular services to address these concerns.

The government reported formal procedures were in place to encourage victims’ cooperation in the investigation and prosecution of trafficking crimes; however, such procedures were not utilized during the reporting period. There were no reports victims were detained, fined, or jailed for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of being subjected to trafficking. The Department of Immigration developed the Kenyan Immigration Border Procedure Manual (KIBPM), setting out guidelines and procedures for immigration officials to identify traffickers and victims of trafficking, including mandatory actions for officials once a suspected case of trafficking is identified and a procedure for conducting interviews with victims to gather evidence on recruitment and exploitation of the victim. The government did not report whether the KIBPM was provided to all officials, including police officers. Under the 2010 anti-trafficking act, officials may grant permission for foreign trafficking victims to remain indefinitely in Kenya if it is believed they would face hardship or retribution upon repatriation; the government did not report using this provision during the reporting period.


The government made increased efforts to prevent human trafficking. The government established the advisory committee in August 2014, as mandated under the 2010 anti-trafficking act. The committee met regularly during the reporting period and updated Kenya’s national action plan. The government did not establish the National Assistance Trust Fund for Victims of Trafficking as mandated by the 2010 anti-trafficking act; however, it reported it was in the final stages of approval at the end of the reporting period. DCS disseminated awareness materials and case studies in efforts to educate local communities on potential indicators of trafficking. For instance, in June 2014 in Kilifi, a county known for child sex trafficking, officials raised awareness on this issue.

In October 2014, MOL formed a taskforce to review the existing framework for the management and regulation of recruitment agencies and assess its effectiveness in protecting Kenyans recruited for overseas employment; the taskforce did not release its recommendations by the end of the reporting period. In September 2014, the government revoked all of the accredited certificates issued to private employment recruitment agencies and reinstituted its ban on the recruitment of domestic workers for employment in the Middle East, increasing the likelihood nationals would migrate illegally and face heightened risks to human trafficking. MOL attempted to address efforts of adult trafficking victims in the Middle East by re-vetting 900 recruitment agencies. In September 2014, MOL established a new process for agencies sourcing jobs abroad in the hospitality and service sectors, requiring agencies to receive approval of all contracts by MOL prior to applicants signing the contracts and departing for employment. The contracts, if deemed credible, are required to be signed before a labor ministry officer, and applicants must register with the Kenyan embassy in the host country.

The government made efforts to reduce the demand for commercial sex acts by increasing searches and raids. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) provided anti-trafficking training or guidance for its diplomatic personnel. According to media reports, the MFA appointed a team to review cases involving three diplomats accused of mistreating their domestic workers in the United States. The government’s training for troops deployed overseas on international peacekeeping missions included a module on human rights, addressing human trafficking.