Commemorating the International Day on Counter Trafficking in Persons: 30th July 2021

The United Nations adopted the them of “Victims’ Voices Lead the Way” as the rallying call for the 2021 commemoration and awareness campaigns around the globe.

This year’s theme puts victims of human trafficking at the centre of the campaign and further highlights the importance of listening to and learning from survivors of human trafficking. The campaign was intended to portray survivors as key actors in the fight against human trafficking  while at the same time focusing on the crucial role they play in establishing effective measures to prevent human trafficking, identify and rescue victims and support them on their road to rehabilitation, recovery and reintegration.

CHTEA Commemoration activities and Media Engagement:

  • In collaboration with the Salvation Army-Anti Trafficking Unit in Kenya, CHTEA held a highly successful event in one of the informal settlements in Nairobi. It was started with a procession led by the Salvation Army band and over 20 outriders donning reflector jackets with anti-human trafficking messages besides two big banners with thematic messages for the day. The procession ended at an open-air ground where public speeches by Kenya Government representatives donned the peak of the day. Several media houses covered the event.
  • During the month of July 2021, the Religious Against Human Trafficking (RAHT), a Catholic network of religious Congregations and civil society partners organized a series of live radio shows targeting counter trafficking in persons’ awareness messaging. CHTEA participated in two (English and Swahili) of the shows at “Radio Waumini”.
  • Separately, CHTEA had series of interviews with a number of journalists from both international, Regional and National media houses during the month of July. These included DW (Germany), Radio France International, the Kenya Television Network (KTN), Nation (NTV), the People Daily, Switch TV, Ebru TV, TV47, Classic 105 and the Standard Newspaper.

Below is a pictorial and online links for the various activities, events, interviews and documentaries for this years’ commemoration: (KTN -English) (KTN -Kiswahili) (Radio France International) (Standard Newspaper pullout)’traffickers-use-technology-to-entrap-minors-87595/ (People Daily Newspaper)

CHTEA Banner in Kiswahili         

Global Anti-Human Trafficking slogan

Above: Top left and right – during the procession

Above: A government official addressing the public after the procession

Child Trafficking: A Glimpse at Kenya Government’s effort towards eradicating Child Trafficking

(See a video clip at the bottom)

Child trafficking has taken a dramatic turn in Kenya over the last six months of 2021. There are more reports of children being lost without a trace, abductions, executions and even organ harvesting. This is a new development, considering that Kenya has had a fairly good and robust law that safeguards, prevents and protects children from or against any form of harm or violence.

As security agencies endevour to crack down on perpetrators, the society has had to deal with this unprecedented situation. Communities and especially those living within the urban poor neighborhoods have found themselves under siege from the “faceless” child targeting perpetrators who take advantage of huge populations mainly surviving on shoe string budgets to fend for their families.

According to the Daily Nation newspaper published in Nairobi on 13th July, one family in Nairobi’s Zimmerman estate has been living in agony for a month now after their 14-year-old son, Abraham Nhial, disappeared without a trace on June 5. Nhial went out to get a haircut during the recent school midterm break and was not seen again, said his father, Daniel Mawut.

A few metres away, the family of a three-year-old Franklin Gicheru is desperately searching for the boy, who vanished on June 22 after breakfast. Franklin’s parents James Mwangi and Loise Mwangi are in agony over his kidnapping in broad daylight. On the fateful day, James said he was notified by a neighbor that his son was seen walking away with an unknown woman. The neighbor thought she was a relative of the family.

The two disappearances were two weeks apart, but many more children have vanished leaving families in anguish. At least 61 children were reported missing between March and May 2021.

Although some 33 were found, with the whereabouts of the rest unknown, Missing Child Kenya, a non-governmental organisation, says there’s growing concern that a criminal network could be stealing the children.

More disturbing, however, is that the perpetrators of these abductions, torture and murders have also increasingly been targeting defenseless children. The fears are not misplaced given the horrific ending to the kidnap and murder in May of eight-year-old Shantel Nzembi. The girl was kidnapped in Kitengelain Kajiado County. Her abductors demanded Sh300,000 in ransom. The family contacted police only for the girl to be found dead days later.

In June, 11-year-old Priscilla Naserian, from Kajiado, went missing. Her body was later found dumped in a bush a few kilometres from her home.

Early July, 2021 in Moi’s Bridge, Eldoret, Linda Cherono, 13, who had been missing for several days, was found murdered. In Kasarani, Githurai and Zimmerman (Nairobi suburbs), victims who have been rescued and other eyewitnesses describe a woman reported to be luring the children with goodies.  Families are so desperately poor that a child can easily be lured for a few sweets or a soda.

Human traffickers

According to the Daily Nation newspaper report however, aggrieved parties are taking to social media to report the missing loved ones instead of taking such reports to the police. This makes follow ups difficult and reduces the chances of tracking down perpetrators who are known to use technology to communicate with relatives of the children.

At least 242 children aged 18 and below were reported missing between January and December 2020, the report by Missing Child Kenya said – 125 girls and 117 boys. Some of them were found and reunited with their families, while others were taken to government shelters. A few were found dead while others are still missing.

“A total of 131 children were found and reunited with their families, 16 have recently been found, 10 were found dead while 18 are still missing,” the report said. From 2016 to 2020, a total of 780 children were reported missing. Of those, 496 were found and reunited with their loved ones, 73 were taken to government-run children’s homes, 21 were found dead and 190 were still missing.

The report comes a few weeks after the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) cautioned parents to monitor how their children use social media and the people they interact with. In a statement in June 2021, the DCI alerted parents about human traffickers targeting young girls to sell as sex slaves: “Sex traffickers have come up with a new technique of kidnapping and targeting teenage school-going girls or those who have just completed their secondary education” “The crooks lure the young girls on social media where they access their personal details before enticing them into a trap,” the statement read.

Prosecution and Convictions

Even as the effort to apprehend perpetrators of child trafficking continues, the Kenyan Security agencies have made gains through arrests, prosecution and conviction of the offenders. For example, the correctional services at the Naivasha maximum prison allowed media access to document some of the jailed perpetrators who spoke about their underworld illegal trade in children. The prison’s authorities also shared their experience with the media regarding how traffickers operate in total disguise with respect to their true identity.

You can watch HERE the video clip.

‘Another Darkness in Our World’

Is it the dark side of the moon or what darkness am I reflecting on now?  We met a priest last week from DR Congo (DRC), he is a missionary in Bukavu, that side of DRC where the terrible volcanos erupted, particularly in the area of Goma.  He came to visit us to learn more on how we started doing Counter Human Trafficking (CHT) work.  He even hinted that we might come and do the initial training. Fr Bernard is working with a group of local Sisters helping him to run a center for young girls, 250 of them who are very severely wounded in mind, body and spirit.  They are in a high state of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).  Not only is that country ruled by hundreds of militia groups but women and children are suffering the worst weapon of war which is sexual violence.  In fact he told us that it is hard to meet a young woman or girl child who has not met rape and defilement. I came away feeling very sad at one of the examples he shared with us, of a 5 year old girl “who is so damaged both internally and externally that she will never give birth” these were his words.  In the African context this is a curse the innocent little girl must live with, the hospital where she was taken did their best and she did survive but the real cost will fall on the most vulnerable in our society and the world at large. This is the kind of darkness I am sharing with you now.

Recently, I met an orphaned girl ‘Cindy’ who had just come back from the burial of her grandmother, she was an elderly lady almost 90 years old.  The story which emerged was as horrific as the act itself.  The pain, grief and loss coupled with the background of Cindy herself made this whole scenario even more intensely painful.  Cindy was orphaned of the only parent she can vaguely recall, then stayed with her grandmother till she was 12 years old.  Then she was sent to reside with an uncle and his wife in one of Nairobi’s largest slums.  The idea of the people in the far rural community was that she would get better educational opportunities in Nairobi.  His wife went to work early and this beastly relative choose to defile the unsuspecting, innocent 12 year old girl.  Minutes later ‘to add insult to injury’ he walked outside laughing to himself while Cindy picked herself up from the floor.  It was a major trauma to this child and a very dark shadow in her life.

Despite intensive counseling Cindy carries this dark scenario in her head – and it will never go away.  After that horrific assault Cindy gathered together her school books and uniform and left the one roomed shack which had been her home for the past month.  Where to go now?  she had no clue but definitely she was in no mood to face her school-going peers on that awful day.  So, she hired herself out as a domestic help to get odd jobs in whatever was available but it meant an end to formal class work.  Luckily, she met a community health volunteer of Medical Missionaries of Mary where MMM Sisters run a health center, one of them called Rose assured Cindy that she was always welcome to stay at her place and from time to time she took shelter there.

During the school holidays Cindy went to her grandmother, after all she was the only parent figure in her life.  When she returned from the burial of “my Granny” last week I could see that she was totally shattered, the big tears dropped like the onset of heavy rains here in Kenya.  Despite the great age of this elderly grandmother, she sold a cow that morning for KShs 14.000/- (125/- to one Euro), to send an orphaned granddaughter to F/1 (start of secondary school year).  She bought some shopping items for the girl and stuffed the balance inside her belt.  On the way home walking, she diverted into the forest to pick some small sticks for firewood.  That simple diversion resulted in her death – ‘Anna’ was robbed, raped and strangulated.  Next morning some children also on a short diversion to collect firewood, found her body. To those left behind especially Cindy, these are horrific details of the end of life of the woman she had known and loved so dearly.  It underlines again her own personal defilement at 12 years old, and knowing that this uncle still walks free.  Whoever is the man who snuffed out the life of an elderly grandmother may never be named.  Sadly, we live in a country where corruption is the order of the day.  There is nobody to follow-up or name and charge the man who murdered this brave woman in such a ruthless fashion.  We salute this extraordinary woman of courage, despite her advanced years, she valued the benefits of education for a child.  She had nurtured Cindy well, she also gave thanks to God each day that a Good Samaritan had come to her aid and taken her through secondary education.   Cindy was just one point short of university entrance but the same Good Samaritan also sent her on a fifteen month beauty course.  She has excelled in her theory and practical exams and values the highly marketable skills she now holds.  Now at 20 years old she is set to launch herself on a very worthwhile career.


Now with three stories rolled into one, we have seen very painful personal tragedies in the lives of the feminine gender.  Three females who have paid a very high price – and in extremes of age – between the 5 year old and the 90 year old.  Does our world have to be such a dark place?  What has gone so horribly wrong?  Have we spoken so much of the girl child to the detriment of the boy child that this insane and horrific violence is being played out so randomly and for no apparent provocation?  Has pornography almost completely overtaken our sexuality?  Just as sure that we have a Coronavirus pandemic there is a parallel pandemic in our midst – every bit as prevalent and transmissible as Covid-19.  Let’s arm ourselves to fight for our youth and all people who are easily lured and sucked into a vortex of ‘hell’ which can only further work to wreck more havoc in the lives of countless millions of women and girls especially in every continent and small village.

 Mary O’ Malley, MMM
 31st May, 2021

CHTEA Receives a Government Appointment to sit at a Strategic Technical Committee

In a bold and decisive step, the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection (the home for Counter Trafficking in Persons Secretariat) constituted a Multi-Stakeholder Technical Committee for Fostering Recruitment Agencies’ Ethical Practices and Accountability. CHTEA was nominated to sit as a voice for the Civil Society. The Committee was officially commissioned by the Cabinet Secretary for Labour, Mr. Simon Chelugui on 23rd July 2021.

The Committee launch came hot on the heels of a government revelation that Kenya had lost up to 93 labour migrants to the Middle-East/Gulf region.  Labour Cabinet Secretary (CS) Simon Chelugui told MPs that the Ministry is unable to provide a detailed breakdown on the deaths of the Kenyans, which occurred mostly in Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

“We are following up with the Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Interior to know who the victims are and where they came from in the country,” Mr Chelugui told the National Assembly’s Labour Committee.

The CS had appeared before the Labour Committee alongside Principal Secretary Peter Tum to explain the circumstances that led to the death of Melvin Kang’ereha in Saudi Arabia in 2020.

He said that since January 2019, the ministry facilitated the employment of over 87,784 Kenyans in the Gulf Region. A majority of the migrant workers are in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, UAE and Bahrain.

“Within the same period, the ministry has received reports of 93 deaths of Kenyan migrant workers in the Gulf Region.

CHTEA has been tracking the Middle-East Kenyan labour migration situation and the increasing exploitation with a keen interest since 2019. During 2020, a major crisis of Kenyans stuck in Lebanon moved CHTEA to mobilise her partners (both local and international) for repatriation. A total of 129 survivors/returnees were processed and supported with air tickets and ground transport back home besides  being placed on a rehabilitation, restoration reintegration  programme.

Once again, as at June 2021, the number of exploitation cases received by CHTEA had reached a discomforting level; with a majority of the reports received from a few member States of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). The GCC member States include Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain and Oman. Kenya has signed three bilateral labour agreements with a few GCC member states namely; the Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.