A draft Bill forwarded to the Attorney-General threatens to award human traffickers life in prison if it becomes law, after a multi-sectoral committee appointed to write a law against human trafficking and smuggling finished its work.
The Cabinet is expected to study the draft Bill before handing it to Parliament this month, according to its authors.
The proposed law does not only target traffickers. Those who abet the crime, including owners or representatives of hotels, bars, villas and brothels that use or employ trafficked people, are considered culprits.
They also face lengthy jail terms or life imprisonment, in addition to losing property acquired from the trade.
“We are preparing the Cabinet memo,” said Mr Gilbert Onyango, the chairman of the legal sub-committee that has been drafting the Trafficking in Persons Bill.
He is the programme officer in charge of policy and legislative advocacy at the Child Rights Advisory Documentation and Legal Centre (Cradle).
“We hope to have a draft Bill by the time the House resumes in October.”
This is a reworked version after the AG rejected the draft two years ago. The AG had identified flaws that needed fixing, including a conflict with existing laws.
For instance, while the Children’s Act defines a child as a “person” below the age of 18 years, the anti-trafficking draft Bill looked at a child as “human being”.
According to Alice Maranga, the Fida awareness programme official, who was part of the technical committee that drafted the Bill, human trafficking is the third largest earner of illegal money, after narcotics and arms.
“Penalties should be stiff,” she said.
The draft proposes establishment of the Inter-Agency Board Against Trafficking in Persons charged with overseeing the implementation of programmes and policies against the crime, measures to protect the confidentiality of victims, extradition of suspects, restitution for victims and immunity to victims.
It defines a trafficker and those trafficked. Those trafficked are considered victims and therefore protected by the law.
“At the moment, the Kenyan law deals with victims as if they were criminals,” said Odhiambo, a programme officer at Cradle.
The Bill provides for extradition of suspected traffickers or smugglers.
People like Bishop Gilbert Deya could be forced back home to answer human trafficking charges if the Bill becomes law.