• Saturday, 22 June 2024
THE STATESMAN INSIDER: Kenyans Who Were Trafficked To Asia Talk About Their Grisly Experience

THE STATESMAN INSIDER: Kenyans Who Were Trafficked To Asia Talk About Their Grisly Experience

It is becoming clear that for some Kenyans, looking for employment opportunities in Asia is proving to be a nightmare.

Some job seekers have admitted that some of the ostensibly lucrative opportunities in the Far East frequently end up being a cover for organ theft, prostitution, and even cybercrime.

Exclusive interviews with two Kenyan human trafficking survivors who had just returned from the Lao People's Democratic Republic were conducted by Citizen TV.

When Catherine and Joyce (not their real names) learned about lucrative customer service and sales opportunities in Thailand, they were in financial difficulty in Kenya.

Up to Ksh. 100,000 per month was promised by the Thailand opportunity. They claim that after taking out a loan of almost Ksh. 250,000 to pay their agents, they underwent some brief training, and a month later they left for what they believed to be greener pastures.

However, once they arrived in Thailand, the narrative began to change. Their handlers drove them to a place they were unfamiliar with, and at one point, they crossed a river.

Catherine tells the story, saying, "We took a boat and crossed over, and we were told we were in Laos and we were taken by someone else."

On the trip, they advised us to keep quiet and act like tourists, according to Joyce.

They were allegedly taken to a hostel, where their passports were taken and they were informed that their visas would be converted into working visas, according to Catherine.

They claim to have spent the night there with other Kenyans who had already been there for some time, all while being subject to extremely strict security.

It has a lot of stories. The officers were there, as well as where we ate and slept. We met other Kenyans, who asked us what kind of work we came here for. There was a supermarket, clothing stores, and strict security," says Joyce.

"We explained to them that it's customer service. When we were given computers, Chinese, Laotian, and Kenyans were among the recipients of the statement "There is nothing like that here; the work is cyber-crime." We were instructed to look for photos on dating websites and create fictitious accounts on Facebook, Instagram, and Tinder, she continues.

It was their responsibility to find clients online, pose as lovers, and seduce them.

"You can explain to them about cryptocurrency when they fall in love with you. You begin taking things from them. They claimed to be targeting us users online, Joyce continues.



In a picture, you look for a beautiful woman who has money and travels, Catherine explains. You photograph them while posing as they are. You visit Facebook and begin adding American men as friends. You then ask for their WhatsApp contact information and begin chit-chatting with them.

The victims informed us that cash was prominently displayed in their workplaces to encourage the agents to continue looking for unsuspecting online users to lure.

Identity theft and impersonation are crimes, and they carry a range of punishments depending on the jurisdiction. A fine of Ksh. 200,000, two years in prison, or both are possible penalties for the offense in Kenya under Section 29 of the Computer Misuse and Cybercrimes Act.

"We told them this work is illegal, and we don't want to do it. They said we had to pay Ksh. 1.2 million to purchase our freedom. When we told them that we had also paid, they claimed that we had been duped. We started looking for assistance there," says Joyce.

"We contacted them regarding the contract. When we finally arrived, we understood that it was untrue. When we arrived, we were informed that the first 100,000 would be paid out followed by the next 50,000 in commissions only, she continues.

She remembers a time when they began to fear for their lives, right after a Kenyan explained everything to them.

He warned us that if we didn't work hard, we might be forced into prostitution or organ donation as a means of recouping their investment. We consequently began to fear for our lives. You cannot go away. People refused to report for work, and they wouldn't pay us our salaries, Joyce continues.

They then began looking for an exit after learning this information.

"We began looking for assistance; one of us obtained the ambassadors number, and the other obtained the contact information for HAART Kenya (Awareness Against Human Trafficking); they got to work on us, and the government made our names public. In order for IOM to assist us in returning home, Haart Kenya assisted us in obtaining tickets. Once the tickets were acquired, we returned home, she relates.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Kenya informed Kenyans of the release of 24 Kenyans from human traffickers in Laos on September 23, 2022.

The ministry issued a warning that there may be hundreds of mostly young Kenyans working in South East Asian "fraud factories."

Some of the factories may be locations for harvesting and storing human organs, according to official sources. The Foreign Ministry issued a warning that those who don't meet the performance goals will be tortured, spanked, or imprisoned in dark rooms by themselves for days on end without food once the "work" has started.

One Kenyan who was saved claimed to have been imprisoned for three days without food. In Thailand and other Asian nations, there are no jobs in sales and customer service.

Most Kenyans are persuaded to use tourist visas to visit Thailand or Malaysia, but in reality, they are being trafficked across the border to the "fraud factories" once they have arrived.

Since August, according to Mercy Otieno, Head of Protection at HAART Kenya, they have received numerous distress calls from Kenyans "who went in search of better opportunities and realized that they have been trafficked" in Myanmar, Laos, and Cambodia.

According to the NGO, there are at least 100 Kenyans in Saudi Arabia, at least 9 in Lebanon, and at least 9 more in Kenya who are in need of assistance.

The good news is that those who were tricked into taking these jobs may soon receive justice.

"There is an ongoing court case between the state and the agents for the Laos Myanmar case," claims Otieno.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued an additional warning to Kenyans on October 21, 2022, urging them to be wary of human trafficking cartels and noting that 50 Kenyans had already been saved.

"Compare pay with work. If people keep telling you that this is a secret, you may have a problem. Otieno advises not leaving the country if you don't have a contract.

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