The government made modest efforts to protect children, while protection services for adult victims remained negligible. Authorities reported identifying and referring to care 530 trafficking victims in 2016, some of whom were likely involved in smuggling; during the previous year, it reported identifying 153 victims, all of which were internal child trafficking victims. The government placed some child victims in child-specific rescue centers, supported the familial reunification of others, and assisted with the repatriation of non-Kenyan nationals. During the reporting period, the government did not allocate funding for the victim assistance fund; in 2015, the government provided funds for the first time, allocating 7 million Kenyan shillings ($68,326). NGOs and international organizations played a significant role in victim identification and referral to the Department of Children’s Services (DCS). DCS officers participated in police investigations, identification of child trafficking victims, counseling provisions, and 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 exploitation, and domestic abuse; the hotline’s main call center was located in a government-owned building in Nairobi. The government reported the hotline received 1,195 reports of child trafficking in 2016, the same number it reported in the previous reporting period. In December 2016, the government issued guidelines, developed the previous year, for implementing the national referral mechanism; however, it did not employ them during the reporting period or train stakeholders on their implementation.
The government’s services for adult trafficking victims identified within the country remained negligible. Some NGOs noted the government-maintained list of assistance providers was not comprehensive and contact information for some organizations was not made publicly available, precluding victims from effectively reaching them. DCS continued to operate eight drop-in referral centers in Eldoret, Garissa, Malindi, Siaya, Kakamega, Nairobi, Nakuru, and Mombasa, and four rescue centers in Garissa, Malindi, Thika, and Machakos, where child victims of violence, including trafficking victims, could stay for up to three months before returning home or being referred to NGO facilities. The government and NGOs provided medical help, psycho-social support, rehabilitation and reintegration services, food and clothing, and referrals to other centers for an unknown number of children, which may have included trafficking victims. NGOs provided protective provisions at times without government support.
To address the exploitation of Kenyan nationals abroad, the MOL assigned labor attachés to Kenyan missions in Qatar, the UAE, and Saudi Arabia to assist citizens employed in those countries. The government also signed a bilateral labor agreement with Qatar to coordinate efforts to reduce cases of exploitative labor and other abuses against Kenyans abroad, to include trafficking. It provided ad hoc repatriation assistance, including housing placement, medical care, psycho-social support, and reintegration services, for its citizens subjected to trafficking outside Kenya; in some cases NGOs and destination-country governments coordinated and funded the repatriation of Kenyan nationals without government support. The government’s diplomatic missions worked to improve consular services to victims abroad, although serious gaps remained. Immigration officials continued to conflate smuggling with trafficking and arrested, without screening, potential trafficking victims for traveling with forged documents. Reports alleged authorities treated some victims as criminals, sometimes charging them with labor violations. The government had formal procedures to encourage victims’ cooperation in the investigation and prosecution of trafficking crimes; however, there were no reports such procedures were used during the reporting period. Under the 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.