A Kenyan court sentenced a hospital worker to 25 years in jail after he was fingered in an illegal child trafficking expose by the BBC. The convicted man, identified as Fred Leparan, was an employee at Mama Lucy Kibaki Hospital in the East African nation’s capital, Nairobi.
Authorities arrested Leparan in 2020 after footage from BBC Africa Eye showed him accepting $2,500 to allegedly steal a baby from the hospital and sell to a reporter who had posed as an interested buyer.
Although strong evidence linked him to the alleged crime, the case lingered for over two years. The legal team Leparan hired to defend him in court was also said to be among the best in the country. The senior clinical social worker, however, admitted to being the individual videoed in the expose. Leparan’s conviction came after he was found guilty of child trafficking, child neglect and conspiracy to commit crime.
Another co-defendant and Leparan’s colleague at the hospital, Selina Adundo, was handed a six-year jail sentence or a $2,000 fine. The punishment handed to Adundo came after she was found guilty of three counts of child neglect. The court, however, acquitted her of child trafficking. The court also warned that the convicted individuals should never be given the chance to take care of children-related matters.
Per BBC, an African Eye reporter established contact with Leparan after a source informed her of Leparan’s involvement in an illicit child trafficking operation that was happening at the government-run hospital.
The reporter informed Leparan that she was having issues having a baby with her husband. Leparan ultimately agreed to sell a baby boy to the undercover reporter after asking her half-baked questions.
The baby boy Leparan agreed to sell was among three minors who were set to be transferred from the hospital to a children’s home being run by the state, per BBC. But on the day the three minors were going to be moved to the facility, Leparan was videoed fabricating the transfer documents to make it seem the home was taking in two children instead of three.
Leparan also gave the all-clear for the undercover reporter to take the baby boy, but the BBC team made sure all three children made it safe to the children’s home. Credible statistics on child trafficking in Kenya are said to be scarce.
Florence Bore, who is Kenya’s Minister of Labour and Social Protection, said the number of children reported missing between July 2022 and May 2023 was over 6,000. Bore also recently said the government is putting in measures to tackle child trafficking in the country.