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DPP Noordin Haji speaking on March 25, 2021 when he launched a Project that seeks to strengthen the capacity of criminal justice actors to effectively investigate and prosecute the commercial sexual exploitation of children in Mombasa. The Project is being spearheaded by IJM.

Kenya

IJM launches new project to boost war against child sex trafficking in the coast

NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 26- In a move meant to curb child sex trafficking at the coast, the International Justice Mission-Kenya has launched an ambitious project to empower all stakeholders.

IJM Country Director Bernard Shamala said the programme which is dubbed the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children Project (CSEC), will see police, community and social justice centres empowered on effective ways of dealing with the menace.

He said the project will not only seek to address gaps in reporting mechanisms and community-level response but will also focus on psychosocial support to victims and survivors, working through partner organizations to accompany survivors through the healing process.

“In 2019, IJM Kenya conducted an assessment of child sex trafficking in the southern parts of the Kenyan Coast, which indicated that the region remains a major child sex trafficking hotspot. The level of poverty in the Kenyan coastal communities reduces communal resilience to child sex trafficking, and a lack of adequate livelihood alternatives increases the risk of child sex trafficking,” Shamala said.

It is a project that is aimed at protecting thousands of children living in poverty against sex trafficking that is rampant in Kenya, particularly in the coastal region.

An initial assessment by IJM has indicated that the prevalence of child sex trafficking is still high at the coast.

“We also observed that the crime is facilitated by family, friends and community members, tourists as well as strangers, who act as recruiters, agents, pimps and transporters. While some customers are foreign visitors, the majority are local, and many engage with individual victims on a long-term basis,” the IJM-Kenya Country Director pointed out.

Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Noordin Haji, who launched the project in Mombasa said it will be useful in raising public awareness and will also encourage victims of related offences to report such crimes.

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It is estimated that there are up to 20,000 victims of child sex trafficking across Kenya, although only a fraction of cases is reported to the police.

“The advancement of technology especially the encryption and anonymizing technology has provided an opportunity for individuals to exploit children both online and offline. Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children (CSEC) Project is therefore timely – as we must adopt initiatives to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. We must develop strategies to ensure that children are guaranteed a trauma-free safe childhood,” the DPP said.

“I am confident that the project will lead to greater collaboration between various agencies culminating in greater co-operation with regard to immediate support of child victims, to wit, rescue centers, helplines, counseling, legal and medical aid. Further, joint training will ensure that law enforcement agencies, prosecutors and judicial officers read from the same script.”

Among the targeted institutions meant for empowerment under the project include the Anti-Human Trafficking and Child Protection Unit, Mombasa office.

The assistance, Shamala said, “will enable these actors to conduct more effective and victim-sensitive investigations, prosecutions and case management.”

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