The Director of an NGO working to eliminate child labour and trafficking, Terre des homes Netherlands, Evans Munga, has expressed concern over the low rate of child labour and child trafficking offenders in Busia County.
Speaking during a three-day training for government officers at a hotel in Busia town, Munga said that there is need for a coherent and seamless coordination by relevant government departments in handling such cases.
“As we speak, prosecution of such cases in Busia are so low,” he said, adding that no cases have been reported due to either lack of awareness by the community or among the key players.
The Director pointed out that a baseline survey carried out by the organization shows that there are many cases of child trafficking in the County, with children doing all manner of work both in towns and at the community level.
“We are inviting the key players in the service industry like the business community, truck drivers and the boda boda associations, hawkers, bars and restaurant owners to know that it is illegal to employ such children,” he added.
He urged the law enforcement agencies to ensure that people report cases of child labour and child trafficking since they are criminal offences.
In the meantime, the organization seeks to ensure that children are protected as they go to school, more so in a region where some of them were not learning due to underlying issues of poverty livelihoods.
“One of the key highlights of this project is to support children and their families at the community level and capacity build the duty bearers,” said Munga, adding that the organization is also in the process of creating awareness among the local community.
The NGO will also create awareness among children by visiting schools so that people know that child labour is criminalized, since it denies children their rights to health and education.
“Many of them end up being trafficked or being sexually exploited,” he said, adding that such heinous acts are criminalized under the laws of Kenya.
Munga urged members of the public to play an integral role with a view to enhancing the fight against child labour and child exploitation. “If a child is below 18 years and is being exploited, please report such cases,” he pleaded.
On his part, Busia County Commissioner Sam Ojwang’ asked the government officers to protect the rights of children for a better future.
Ojwang’ stated that whatever is done to children by the current leadership will be reciprocated to them after retirement.
“How we treat these children today will determine how they will take care of us in future,” he said, adding that a number of children are currently under the mercies of ruthless parents who are out to make money at all costs.
He argued that it is in the weaknesses of government officers in enforcing the law that exposes children to exploitation. “We are living in a very difficult situation where children are living under the mercies of ruthless parents,” he said.
The County Commissioner further challenged the concerned officers to critically analyze their roles in the war against child labour and trafficking.
“Let us form a formidable team that is determined to protect the children,” said Ojwang’, adding that the situation becomes more challenging when some government officers become perpetrators of such criminal acts.
By Salome Alwanda