The government maintained victim protection efforts. The government identified 482 victims of trafficking—45 adult females, 111 boys, and 326 girls—compared with 383 victims identified in 2020. Of the 482 victims identified in the country, traffickers exploited 217 in forced labor and 265 in unspecified exploitation; 398 were Kenyan, while 84 were foreign nationals primarily from neighboring countries and South Asia. The government identified only one Kenyan victim exploited abroad, compared with 150 in the previous reporting period. The government continued to use its SOPs for victim identification, and the Counter Trafficking in Persons Secretariat (CTiP Secretariat) reported partnering with immigration officers to screen for trafficking indicators among foreign migrants involved in migrant smuggling cases.
The government had an NRM that outlined guidelines for victim referral to services; however, the government did not fully implement the NRM, and local authorities continued to bypass the NRM and directly contact NGOs to provide victim assistance. The government reported partnering with various NGOs to offer routine assistance to 350 victims (45 adults and 305 children), including medical care, psycho-social counseling, legal assistance, and repatriation for foreign victims, compared with providing services to 134 victims in 2020. The government also reported referring 85 victims (45 adults and 40 children) to shelter, compared with 112 victims referred to shelter in 2020. The government did not operate any trafficking-specific shelters and continued to rely on NGOs to provide shelter to victims. The Department of Children’s Services continued to operate five centers—located in Garissa, Kisumu, Machakos, Nairobi, and Thika—used to house potential child trafficking victims; the government reported providing temporary shelter to 47 potential victims. Protection services for adult victims remained scarce, and NGOs reported that the government’s overall victim assistance remained limited and inconsistent in quality. In response to the ongoing pandemic, some NGO shelters and government-run centers acted as quarantine or testing centers or had limited capacity due to social distancing measures; the government reported this decreased its ability to refer all victims to care. The government also reported pandemic-related measures, such as travel restrictions, mandatory quarantine and testing, social distancing, work-from-home orders, and curfews, continued to hamper the ability of the government to provide in-person care. However, NGOs sustained concerns over long-standing protection gaps further exacerbated by the pandemic, inhibiting the government from providing appropriate care to victims. Despite reliance on civil society organizations to provide victim services, the government provision of financial or in-kind support to such organizations remained minimal. Officials reported overall funding to combat trafficking remained inadequate, noting that government officials sometimes used their personal funds to provide support to victims. During the 2021-2022 fiscal year, the National Treasury allocated 20 million Ksh ($176,910) to the National Assistance Trust Fund for Assisting Victims of Trafficking, the same amount as the previous fiscal year. The government reported dispersing more than 10.3 million Ksh ($91,110) from the fund to repatriate foreign victims identified in Kenya and to purchase supplies for one NGO-run shelter; this was a significant increase compared with 1.8 million Ksh ($15,920) dispersed from the fund in the previous reporting period. The CTiP Secretariat began drafting new guidelines for the disbursement of these funds to enhance its use.
To address the exploitation of Kenyan nationals abroad, the Ministry of Labor and Social Protection’s National Employment Authority (NEA) continued to employ labor attachés in Kenyan diplomatic missions in Qatar, United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Saudi Arabia. Reportedly, the attachés advocated for Kenyan workers’ rights with host governments, screened workers for trafficking indicators, resolved workplace disputes, provided identity documents, and partnered with licensed employment agencies to find legitimate work opportunities for Kenyans; the government did not report specific actions taken by the attachés during the reporting period. The NEA added a feature on its website for overseas workers to report exploitation, including potential trafficking crimes, and request assistance. In 2020, media reported that numerous Kenyan women employed as domestic workers in Lebanon may have been victims of trafficking; the Ministry of Foreign Affairs reportedly sent a fact-finding mission to investigate the allegations, but the government did not report any findings or specific actions taken for the second consecutive year.
The government maintained its Witness Protection Agency (WPA) that offered protection to victims participating in investigations and prosecutions; however, officials reported WPA remained without sufficient staffing or funding to provide adequate assistance to victims. Some courtrooms had facilities or equipment that allowed victims to provide testimony via video, one-way glass, or written statements; however, these services were not available in all courtrooms. Foreign national victims had the ability to leave the country, seek employment, and move freely within the country pending trial proceedings. The government provided these options to victims during the reporting period; in one case involving Nepali victims, courts allowed the victims to provide written testimony and return to their home country prior to the end of the trial to avoid re-traumatization. Even though victims’ benefits were not linked to law enforcement participation or whether the trafficker was convicted, officials noted the lack of long- term victim services was a barrier to participation in court cases, and due to frequent repatriation or deportation, victims often could not serve as witnesses. The law allowed officials to grant permission for foreign national trafficking victims to remain indefinitely in Kenya if they would face hardship or retribution upon repatriation; however, senior officials and NGOs previously reported that authorities often quickly returned trafficking victims to their countries of origin due to the limited availability of shelters and other services. Under the Employment Act and the 2010 anti-trafficking law, trafficking victims could file civil suits against traffickers for damages; however, the government did not report any civil suits filed in 2021. NGOs reported the government sometimes placed victims in refugee camps, where their freedom of movement was restricted.
Authorities reportedly penalized victims for unlawful acts traffickers compelled them to commit. NGOs across Kenya continued to report officials sometimes charged potential trafficking victims within vulnerable groups, particularly adults in commercial sex, with commercial sex crimes or labor violations. Authorities reportedly punished foreign national trafficking victims for violating immigration laws, often detaining or deporting them without screening for trafficking indicators. NGOs reported witnesses appeared to have been intimidated, disappeared, or did not appear in court for fear of re-victimization. Officials and NGOs reported the government often placed adult trafficking victims in prisons or detention centers due to the lack of shelters available for adult victims; authorities sometimes placed child victims in centers for juvenile offenders until officials found a shelter or safe house with space available. In 2020, an independent institution reported that authorities detained more than a third of migrants for being in the country without proper documentation; under this approach, officials sometimes detained potential trafficking victims without proper screening or provision of assistance. The same report alleged the government regularly held potential victims awaiting repatriation in detention.