Human Trafficking

Trafficking in human beings refers to the illegal recruitment and movement of persons by means of force, threat, coercion, deception or abduction for the purpose of exploitation. The International definition of trafficking in human beings is contained in the Palermo Protocol adopted by the U NGA at Palermo, Italy in December 2000.

Trafficking in human beings is a global threat that touches nearly every corner of the world.  Almost every country in the world is affected by trafficking, whether as a country of origin, transit or destination for victims.

Migrant smuggling on the other hand refers to procurement in order to obtain a financial benefit, of the illegal entry of a person into a state party of which the person is not a national or a permanent resident.

The distinction between trafficking in human beings and migrant smuggling remains blurred and experience shows that there are overlapping cases where smuggling becomes trafficking.


The Eastern Africa region is a growing hotspot for trafficking in human beings in Africa and is comprised of source, transit and destination countries. The pattern and typologies of trafficking and smuggling in the region typically overlap. Migrants initially seek the assistance of smugglers, but later are often subjected to trafficking

The pattern has evolved into a transnational organised crime involving networked criminal syndicates. Many victims are trafficked intra-regionally and a large portion is trafficked to Europe, the Middle East or South Africa. Domestic trafficking retains a low profile although wide spread in all member states of the region. Domestic trafficking especially for women and children   for purposes of domestic work, servitude, forced labour and prostitution is rampant.

Victims in the region are recruited by legal or illegal employment agencies or voluntarily migrate to Southeast Asia and the Middle East Asia in search of employment, where at times they are exploited in domestic servitude, massage parlours and brothels, or forced manual labor.

Families play a major role in financing irregular migration and may force or coerce their children to go abroad or to urban areas for employment.


Trafficking in human beings is one of the priority crimes under RB Nairobi and has been assigned a dedicated desk to coordinate anti trafficking in human beings activities in the region. In addition the EAPCCO Heads of Police attach a lot of importance to all Regional activities geared towards combating trafficking in human beings and Smuggling of Migrants and this has been expressed in various resolutions adopted during EAPCCO annual general meetings. Consequently, EAPCCO strives to empower law enforcement agencies in our member countries to deal with cases of human trafficking through various ways including but not limited to the following:

  • Capacity building to law enforcement agencies to ensure that officers are equipped to identify and investigate cases of human trafficking in all its forms, including but not limited to forced labour, sexual exploitation, forced criminal activities and organ removal.
  • Child protection activities and working in close collaboration with child protection units and other organisations charged with child welfare in order to ensure appropriate attention during investigations involving crimes against children.
  • Provision of INTERPOL’s policing capabilities and expertise which are tools and services that facilitate sharing of law enforcement related information between all INTERPOL member countries;
  • Providing technical and any other support to member countries in conducting global operations in order to disrupt and dismantle human trafficking networks;
  • Formation of partnerships involving working across sectors to improve the ways in which trafficking can be identified reported and investigated. For instance INTERPOL Regional Bureau is in collaboration with the African Union commission on the ongoing development of the Regional operational center (ROCK) on trafficking in human beings in Khartoum Sudan.
  • Organising and supporting events and conferences which involve experts from different parts of the world;
  • Participation in specialist groups which focus on frontline police work and the exchange of operational information.

The underlying challenge that faces us all in the region as individuals, government agencies, civil society organisations and international organisations remains the same. We need to redouble our efforts to prevent trafficking, identify and protect victims and disrupt the criminal networks that commit these crimes, adapting our response to changing forms of human trafficking.