Kenya’s Attorney General, Paul Kihara Kariuki. PHOTO/COURTESY
By OUR CORRESPONDENT
A Hong Kong based prison chaplain, Fr John Wotherspoon, has asked Kenya’s Attorney General, Paul Kihara Kariuki, to help facilitate the release of 40 Kenyans being held in Hong Kong prisons over drug trafficking.
Fr Wotherspoon said he has been visiting the drug mules in the prison and they have indicated that they are willing to be transferred to local prisons even though prison conditions in Hong Kong are better.
A prisoner in Hong Kong gets to choose the diet to take, is guaranteed free medicine and paid for work done.
“They want to be closer home so as they can be visited by their relatives than being in a far away country where their relatives cannot visit them,” he said.
Fr Wotherspoon said he visited the AG’s office where he delivered files with details of the drug mules for action from the Kenyan authorities. He said he had done the same during a previous visit to Nairobi but no action was taken.
He said someone of the drug-traffickers had been tricked into the illicit trade by being offered overseas job proposals with enticing pay packages only to discover later that they had been lured into drug-trafficking.
Others are even sexually abused by their handlers before they are forced to swallow the drugs – mostly cocaine or insert it in their rectums before being put on flights to their final destination – Hong Kong.
Fr Wotherspoon said the drug-traffickers now prefer taking cocaine to Hong Kong because it fetches better prices there and due to lack of a death penalty in their legislation over drug-trafficking.
Fr John Wotherspoon, a prison chaplain in Hong Kong, addressing journalists in Nairobi when he revealed that 40 Kenyans are currently being held in Hong Kong prisons over drug trafficking. PHOTO/DAILY REPORTER
Fr Wotherspoon has been campaigning against the coercion of Africans into becoming drug mules for six years now. Last week’s trip in Nairobi was his fourth trip to Africa. He was in the company of Sean Christie, a South African journalist working for the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organised Crime.
“The drug-trafficking syndicate in Nairobi is being masterminded by three Nigerians who are using their girlfriends to recruit innocent Kenyans and Tanzanians before flying them to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, where they are forced to swallow drugs or they are forced into their private parts before heading to Hong Kong,” he said.
Although Hong Kong was a prime destination for drug traffickers because of the high price they fetch its international airport is now a no-go zone for drug mules due to stringent checks, coupled with intelligence-gathering, which have seen many of them arrested.
“There are about 40 Kenyans in Hong Kong prisons, according to the Kenyan consulate,” Fr Wotherspoon said.
He added since 2017, at least 19 drug mules have been arrested at Hong Kong airport with drugs from Addis Ababa with seven of them being Kenyans.
The latest Kenyan to be arrested was a man, on January 1 and he had told his wife that he had travelled to Hong Kong on business.
In Hong Kong, trafficking 800 grams of cocaine or heroin leads to a sentence of 14 years if one pleads guilty before trial; 21 years if one does not plead guilty, the case goes to trial and the accused is found guilty.
The cocaine that ends up in Hong Kong, Fr Wotherspoon said, originates from South America.
Because of the strict checks for South Americans going to other countries, drug lords choose African airports because of the ease to compromise officials and lack of screening equipment.
Fr Wotherspoon said drug-traffickers now prefer Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia because the airport has no drugs sniffer dogs and lacks scanning equipment.
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