Various studies have assessed the extent of trafficking in persons in East Africa and have confirmed that human trafficking is not only prevalent but also rampant in the East African Region, which is a source, point of transit and destination for trafficked men, women, and children from Uganda, the United Republic of Tanzania, Kenya and Rwanda.
Victims of trafficking (VoT) from East Africa are normally subjected to various forms of exploitation both within the East African Region and in other regions, including the Middle East and European countries. Such exploitation includes:
- forced prostitution;
- sexual exploitation;
- forced or child marriages;
- engagement of children in armed conflicts/militia groups;
- labour on farms, mines, construction sites;
- domestic work;
- organ harvesting and sale of body parts;
- ritual killings or child sacrifice
The governments of the East African Region have enacted national legislation criminalizing human trafficking, while creating a framework for direct assistance to victims. However, despite the existence of such legislation, there are noteworthy gaps in assisting VoT in the region which include: lack of standard procedures in dealing with victims of trafficking (VoT), low level of awareness about VoT, and poor coordination between countries in the region.
The aim of developing these guidelines is to provide stakeholders and partners in the East African region engaged in victim assistance with a standardized approach that will ensure assistance to victims according to international standards, taking into consideration their basic human rights. The guidelines provide the minimum standard to which stakeholders ought to adhere whilst assisting victims of human trafficking on a case-by-case basis and in accordance with each country’s legislation on countering human trafficking. The development and proper implementation of these guidelines should, in fact, facilitate full implementation of the already enacted laws.
These guidelines are supplementary to the IOM Handbook on Direct Assistance for Victims of Trafficking. They are intended to be easy to follow, and describe systematically the roles of different stakeholders and service providers assisting both internal and cross-border victims of human trafficking.