Kwale County is the leading hotspot for human trafficking in the coastal region, according to the State Department of Labour.
A senior Labour Officer Ms. Rael Rotich said Kwale being a border county has made it easy to traffic people with promise of getting greener pastures in the neighbouring countries,the Middle East countries and South Africa.
Many unsuspecting and vulnerable youth buoyed by the allure of jobs out of the country are the ones who are mainly falling prey to the traffickers operating under the guise of recruitment agencies, she said.
Ms. Rotich was speaking in Ukunda during a two-day stakeholders’ forum on Combating Human Trafficking and Implementation of the National Plan Action (NPA).
She said some people often go to countries like Saudi Arabia on tourist visas and decide to stay there illegally after the visas have expired making it hard for the immigration officers to trace them.
“Sometimes it is difficult to tackle some of these cases because those involved use dubious methods to fly to and out of the country,” she said.
Trace Kenya Director Mr. Paul Adoch said that Coast region is also leading in cases of child trafficking for sexual exploitation and forced street begging involving children and persons living with Disabilities.
He said though their organization is making progress in addressing the trafficking menace, their effort is frustrated by victims who collaborate with the perpetrators of the vice.
“We are having a serious problem of victims who are our clients recanting evidence due to intimidation from the culprits,” he added.
County Police Commander Mr. Tom Odero asked the organization to work closely with the law enforcement officers if it is to succeed in its fight against human traffickers.
He also spoke of a scenario where victims of trafficking are the only ones arrested and charged with being in the country illegally yet the masterminds of the whole process walk free.
“Why doesn’t Trace Kenya assist police with intellegence on those behind the crime since many times we are left with the victims who we prosecute for having no legal documents at all,” Mr. Odero said.
By Shaban Omar and James Muchai