Kenyan Hospital Employee Found Guilty of Child Trafficking After BBC Investigation

Child trafficking is a heinous crime that takes advantage of vulnerable children and exploits their innocence for profit. In a recent case, a Kenyan hospital employee named Fred Leparan has been convicted of child trafficking after being exposed by the BBC. This shocking news has shed light on the issue of child trafficking in Kenya and the need for stronger measures to protect children from such crimes.

The investigation began when an Africa Eye reporter posed as a potential buyer and approached Leparan, who worked at Nairobi’s Mama Lucy Kibaki hospital. Leparan, without conducting any thorough assessment, agreed to sell a baby boy under the hospital’s care for $2,050. The undercover team filmed Leparan falsifying paperwork to conceal the transfer of the baby boy to a government-run children’s home.

The evidence against Leparan was strong, but the case dragged on for over two years. During the trial, Leparan tried to deny his involvement by claiming that the voice in the undercover footage did not belong to him. However, he was eventually forced to admit that he was indeed the person in the video. The court also saw footage of Leparan arranging the theft and transfer of the baby boy, further confirming his guilt.

This case is not isolated, as a former employee of the hospital revealed that 12 children went missing in just two months under the care of Mama Lucy hospital. This indicates a larger problem of child trafficking in Kenya, driven by cultural stigmas around infertility and adoption, as well as a flawed legal adoption process. The demand for stolen children remains significant, making it crucial to address the systemic issues contributing to this problem.

Apart from the hospital scam operated by Leparan, Africa Eye also exposed the illegal trade of babies in street clinics and the theft of babies from vulnerable, homeless mothers. Mary Auma, who ran one such clinic, disappeared after being filmed by the undercover team. This highlights the dangers faced by both mothers and infants in these illicit operations.

Unfortunately, reliable statistics on the extent of child trafficking in Kenya are scarce. However, between July 2022 and May 2023, 6,841 children were reported missing, with only 1,296 reunited with their families. These numbers are deeply concerning and emphasize the urgency of taking stronger measures to combat child trafficking.

The Kenyan government has recognized the severity of the issue, with the then minister for labor and social protection pledging tough government action to combat the trade in stolen children. New laws were introduced to strengthen child protections, but more needs to be done. Mueni Mutisya, from the Directorate of Criminal Investigations Child Trafficking Unit, has called for additional laws that would require members of the public to report suspicions of child abuse or abduction.

While progress has been made, the most vulnerable children are still those from impoverished families. Within Nairobi, slum areas continue to report a high number of missing children. Organizations like Missing Child Kenya play a vital role in providing support and resources for reporting abductions.

The conviction of Fred Leparan is a step towards justice for the victims of child trafficking. However, it is crucial to remain vigilant and ensure that comprehensive measures are in place to prevent such crimes from occurring in the first place. Protecting the rights and well-being of children should be a collective responsibility, and strong laws and enforcement are required to combat child trafficking effectively.