Hassan Ade was among 35 Ethiopians trafficked into Kenya and taken to various parts of Wajir county with the promise of getting a lucrative jobs.
In this group were eight minors who were working as househelps in Korondile, Wajir North Sub-county. Ade and his colleagues were arrested in May this year and charged with being in the country unlawfully. They all pleaded guilty, were convicted on their own plea and fined Sh50,000 or a month in jail on default.
Ade and his colleagues represent the plight many people trafficked into Kenya face. They are lured into the country with the promise of good jobs but when they are arrested, those who trafficked them into the country vanish into thin air.
In Ade’s case, a Mr Guyo, was prominently mentioned to have allegedly collected 2,000 Ethiopian Birrs (Sh7, 221) from each of them with a promise of securing them well paying jobs in Nairobi and South Africa. According to the Kenya National Humans Commission (KNCHR) Guyo has been arrested severally but has never appeared before court.
Ade and his colleagues were directed to plead guilty to the charges with an assurance that the fine would be ‘settled’ and onward transit to Nairobi and South Africa effected. That was not to be.
All the migrants served their respective sentences because they were unable to raise the fines imposed on them and have since been repatriated to Ethiopia.
This is one of the cases KNCHR has handled in Wajir facing human trafficking victims who find themselves alone in court as the real culprits remain faceless.
The commission is now urging the government to change tact in the war against human trafficking.
KNCHR commissioner Jedidah Waruhiu said the rights of victims of human trafficking are being disregarded as the real perpetrators get away.
She singled out the glaring gap in the application of the Counter Trafficking in Persons Act of 2010, that has seen victims of the vice being sent to jail while the culprits who are well-financed and are involved in other organised crimes such as drug trafficking and poaching remain free. The commissioner noted that lack of sufficient vigilance at the borders and failure to use intelligence networks is derailing the war against human trafficking.
The commission has received complaints from 242 petitioners. Most of them have already been convicted and are serving jail terms. They work with the International Organisation for Migration, the Ministry of Immigration and the police in repatriating the victims.
“The war, should be looked at from a human rights perspective. Human trafficking is not a crime that is visible, which means that the people who are arrested most of the time are victims. We do not see the lorry driver, conductor or owners of the vehicles ferrying them facing the law.
The commissioner is proposing that the victims of trafficking should be put under the witness protection programme and repatriated back to their countries instead of facing deportation,” said Waruhiu.