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Cablegate: Trafficking in Persons: Ambassador?S Trip

VZCZCXRO0731
PP RUEHROV
DE RUEHNR #2567/01 1711420
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 201420Z JUN 07
FM AMEMBASSY NAIROBI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0521
INFO RUCNIAD/IGAD COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 NAIROBI 002567

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12058:N/A
TAGS: KCRM PHUM KWMN SMIG PREL PGOV KE
SUBJECT: Trafficking in Persons: Ambassador?s Trip
to Kenya Coast, GTIP Report Rollout, and Day of the
African Child

REF: A)06NAIROBI04070 B) NAIROBI01775
C)06NAIROBI04841

1. Summary. See para 8 for action request. The
combination of the Ambassador?s visit to the Kenyan
coast, the rollout of the GTIP annual report, and
celebrations of the Day of the African Child cast a
spotlight on the problems of trafficking and sex
tourism in Kenya. As a result of the Ambassador?s
meeting with government and non-governmental
stakeholders on the coast, a working group is being
formed to intensify coordination. The Mission has
taken the lead to mobilize donor coordination and
continues to press the government to take more
effective action to combat the problem. End summary.

2. The Ambassador focused extensively on trafficking in
persons during a June 10-14 visit to the Kenyan coast.
This was timed to support rollout of the annual
Trafficking in Persons Report and celebration of the
Day of the African Child on June 16.

---------------------
Visit to the Coast
---------------------

3. The Ambassador?s visit focused on the north-central
coastal area of Malindi and Kilifi. This area (which
generates 60 percent of coastal tourism revenue) is
ground zero in terms of trafficking in Kenya (ref A).
The area is particularly prey to sex tourism, which
involves local underage girls as well as those
trafficked to the area from the interior. During the
visit, the Ambassador discussed the problem with
government officials, the police, the media, private
sector representatives from the tourist industry,
religious groups, and non-governmental organizations.
All agreed that the problem is one of the most serious
affecting the Malindi area and the coast more broadly
(along with increased drug trafficking and poor
infrastructure; see septel trip report). The Ambassador
briefed all interlocutors on U.S. assistance to combat
trafficking, including having taken the lead to
establish a donor working group to coordinate efforts.

4. The District Commissioner of Malindi, a woman,
emphasized her concerns about sex tourism. She noted
that Italian tourists, and to a lesser extent Brits and
Germans, are the foreign nationalities mainly engaging
in this illicit practice. In addition, a recent UNICEF
report indicated that 40% of the clients of underage
prostitutes are Kenyans. The District Commissioner
described her efforts to work with the local hotel
industry and non-governmental groups to raise awareness
and to combat sex tourism and trafficking. The young
Mayor of Malindi echoed these comments. He indicated
that some trafficking is disguised as sham ?marriages.?
The increase in sex tourism during the past decade has
stimulated an influx of young girls from interior
regions of Kenya, he said. Both the District
Commissioner and the Mayor stated that lack of police
resources coupled with a very ineffective judicial
system impede effective action. The District
Commissioner of Kalifi expressed similar sentiments.

--------------------------------------------- ---------
Ambassador?s Meeting with Stakeholders and Formation of
Working Group
--------------------------------------------- ---------

5. The Ambassador highlighted the trafficking in
persons issue through a meeting he chaired with about
50 stakeholders, including government officials and
non-governmental representatives. The media covered
the entire meeting. The Ambassador reviewed the extent
of the problem and described what the U.S. is doing to
assist Kenya to combat it. He proposed that the
stakeholders form a working group in order to increase
coordination and effectiveness. The District
Commissioner welcomed the suggestion and agreed to
chair the group.

6. The assistant district commissioner noted that new
legislation against trafficking is urgently needed (a
draft bill is pending with the Attorney General and we
are pushing to have it presented in Parliament as
quickly as possible). He emphasized the importance of
raising awareness and pressing more tourist
establishments to sign the private sector?s code of
conduct. (Sex tourism in the area is somewhat
camouflaged by the use of private villas and

NAIROBI 00002567 002 OF 003


unregistered hotels.) The head of the police
underscored his commitment to combating trafficking,
but said resources are not sufficient. He said he
would explore establishment of a hot line that the
public could call. (Note: In the weeks prior to the
hosting of a major international cross country
competition in Mombasa earlier this year, the police
successfully cleared the streets and clubs of "idlers,"
meaning prostitutes, drug dealers and others who work
the underbelly of the tourist market. After the event,
it was business as usual in Mombasa. End Note.)

7. Religious and non-governmental groups talked
extensively about the problem and what they are doing.
The Catholic Archbishop for the coast, who came to
Malindi from Mombasa just for the meeting, announced
that the Church has set aside one of its properties to
serve as a rescue center. The property needs to be
renovated and he appealed for assistance. (Separately,
Christian religious leaders told the Ambassador they
are working together to raise awareness about sex
tourism and trafficking.) Solidarity With Women in
Distress (Solwodi) described the strong role it is
playing with U.S. support (the NGO has received 100,000
dollars from the U.S. for anti-trafficking activities).
The American Federation of Labor representative
described what the AFL is doing, with 25,000 USD of
U.S. funding, to raise awareness among workers in the
hotel and tourism industry and using them to help
rescue trafficked girls. A representative of the local
hotel industry reviewed the efforts being made to
expand adherence to the code of conduct.

------------------------
Need for Assistance
------------------------

8. Action requested: We have forwarded to GTIP a
proposal to assist Solwodi to refurbish the site
offered by the Catholic Church for a rescue shelter.
We urge support for this worthwhile project (ref B).

--------------------------------------------- -
Day of the African Child and Vice President?s
Leadership
--------------------------------------------- -

9. During meetings on the coast, a number of
interlocutors referred to the positive leadership that
Vice President Awori has exercised on the problems of
trafficking and sex tourism. That leadership was
highlighted by Awori?s presiding of the celebration of
the Day of the African Child in Mombasa on June 16. He
made the theme of the event ?combating child
trafficking.? The Vice President used the occasion to
stress the seriousness of the government?s commitment
to combat trafficking. A 14-year old girl, Naomi
Akinyi, was one of the formal speakers. She presented
the Vice President and reps from UNICEF, Ministry of
Home Affairs, IOM, Kenya Alliance for Advancement of
Children (KAACR) and Plan International with a
?memorandum? outlining the problem and the actions that
need to be taken. The Coast Provincial Commissioner
and the Provincial Police chief were also present, with
the Provincial Commissioner pledging assistance and
quick government intervention if called upon to help
participants and victims.

-----------------------------
Media and TIP Report Rollout
-----------------------------

10. The combination of the Ambassador?s visit to the
coast, the rollout of the TIP report, and the Day of
the African Child generated considerable media focus on
the problem of trafficking in persons and sex tourism.
Media coverage generally called attention to these
issues as major concerns and highlighted the need for
the government to do more to combat it.

11. The TIP stakeholders meeting and Ambassador?s
comments were extensively reported in the national
Kenyan media. The Ambassador also did a one-hour
interview with the main coastal radio station. The fact
that this media coverage coincided with release of the
annual TIP report cast a spotlight on the issue. The
Ambassador?s comments and TIP report were welcomed in
media commentary as usefully highlighting that Kenya
must focus on this issue and do more to combat the
problem.


NAIROBI 00002567 003 OF 003


-----------
Comment
-----------

12. The growing awareness that trafficking and the
related problem of sex tourism are major problems in
Kenya is encouraging. Apart from the media spotlight
resulting from the combination of the Ambassador?s
visit to the coast, release of the TIP report, and
celebrations for the Day of the African Child, the
media regularly focuses on the issue. The Vice
President?s leadership has energized local authorities
and government departments to focus on the problem, but
lack of resources impedes more effective action. While
there have been some positive developments ? including
the ongoing prosecution of several traffickers on the
coast as previously reported (ref C) ? much more
remains to be done.

13. This Mission took the lead last fall to form a
donor working group on the trafficking issue. We will
continue to press the government to devote more
resources to this problem and to take effective action.
The Mission is also following and has continued to
offer support to the Office of the Vice President to
set up the much talked about Inter-Ministerial
Committee that will be composed of ministries dealing
with TIP matters.
RANNEBERGER

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