The launch of Bench Book in Uganda and Kenya to improve the effectiveness of the justice sector in combating trafficking in persons.
Poverty, hopelessness, discrimination, greed, corruption, and a weak rule of law are all conducive to trafficking in persons, and these conditions are present in Kenya and Uganda. Kenya and Uganda are high-risk countries for trafficking in persons for they act as countries of origin, countries of transit, and countries of destination of the victims.
The judicial system in Kenya and Uganda undergoes challenges in tackling these cases, for instance: most of the time the perpetrators are never arrested, and delays in investigations derail cases. There are also no resources that Judges, prosecutors, or law enforcement agencies can use to reference the trafficking in person cases. It is against this backdrop that the IAWJ in conjunction with IAWJ-Kenya and IAWJ-Uganda came together, with funding from the Global Fund to End Modern Slavery (GFEMS), to develop bench books in Kenya and Uganda aimed at improving adjudication in cases of human trafficking under the project “Women Judges Leading Efforts to Improve Justice Sector Effectiveness in Combating Trafficking.”
On 8th July 2022, the Kenya Judicial Bench Book on Labour Trafficking in Persons was launched in Nairobi and it was graced by the Chief Justice of Kenya - Chief Justice Martha Koome. She stated that the bench book will help judicial officers to have a quick and easily accessible reference guide that will enhance the effectiveness of the administration of justice, with respect to matters relating to labor trafficking in Kenya. Find the Kenya Judicial Bench Book on Labour Trafficking here.
“I will not be far off the mark if I compare it with the historical parallel of the movement of people as commodities, during the slave trade. Tragically, the majority of the persons who are trafficked for exploitation are women and children, who are vulnerable members of our society,” CJ Koome said.
In Uganda, the launch of the Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Bench Book took place on 11th July 2022 in Kampala. The launch was presided over by Hon. Justice Mike Chibita, a Justice of the Supreme Court and Chairperson, Governing Council of the Judicial Training Institute. He said “I hope that the Bench Book will greatly contribute to the fulfillment of fulfillment of the mandate of the Judiciary by improving on adjudication and punishment of human trafficking in the criminal justice system”. Find the Uganda Judicial Bench Book on Trafficking in Persons here.
The bench books that have been launched in Kenya and Uganda will go a long way in helping judicial officers in understanding the dynamics of TIP, providing guidance on being alert and responsive to the needs of often-traumatized TIP victims, and tackling the legal and evidentiary issues that often arise in these cases. So far, the project has printed 1000 bench books that will be distributed across the countries to different stakeholders.
“I found the victim indicator guide very useful and that it was well-summarized and to the point. They should be distributed in soft copy so they can be easily shared with justice sector players and even local communities, religious groups, and the general public.” – Participant – Multi-sector training