U.S. Department of State 2006 Trafficking in Persons Report - Rwanda
|Publisher||United States Department of State|
|Author||Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons|
|Publication Date||5 June 2006|
|Cite as||United States Department of State, U.S. Department of State 2006 Trafficking in Persons Report - Rwanda, 5 June 2006, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4680d8ab54.html [accessed 6 October 2015]|
Rwanda (Tier 2)
Rwanda is a source country for children trafficked for the purposes of sexual exploitation and child soldiering. As a result of extreme poverty, deficient education, and lack of family support, a small number of Rwandan girls resort to prostitution. There were no reports of brothels, organized sex trafficking networks, or of women or girls being lured to urban areas or sold into commercial sexual exploitation. However, there were limited reports of older women working in loose association with younger girls, an activity which may constitute trafficking in persons. While living as refugees in Democratic Republic of the Congo, some children of Rwandan background were trafficked by armed rebel groups for forced labor and child soldiering; numbers of returning child ex-combatants decreased in 2005, but more are expected to be repatriated in the future.
The Government of Rwanda does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. While the government continued its notable efforts to protect former child soldiers and increased the availability of information regarding its anti-trafficking efforts, it lacked specific information on arrests, prosecutions, and convictions of traffickers. To enhance its anti-trafficking efforts, the government should consider the passage of a comprehensive anti-trafficking law, clarify which court cases, if any, involving rape and child labor constitute human trafficking, and further assess the situation of children in prostitution.
The government expanded its anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts over the last year. Rwanda lacks a specific anti-trafficking law, but statutes criminalizing slavery, coerced prostitution, kidnapping, and child labor could be used to prosecute traffickers. Police reportedly conducted regular counter-prostitution operations; the specifics of these investigations are unknown, as are the statistics on prosecutions of those who utilized or exploited children in prostitution. At an August 2005 meeting with the management of Kigali hotels, night clubs, and guest houses, the National Police called for adherence to the law prohibiting access by unaccompanied children to such establishments; police posted the law in businesses throughout the city. The government provided police with training on sex crimes and crimes against children during the year. Through close coordination among the military, national police, immigration, and intelligence services, the government closely monitored security checkpoints for any evidence of trafficking through an extensive system of security checkpoints and regular inspections of vehicle cargo, and by checking the identification of adult males traveling with children without an adult female. Such inspections yielded no reported cases of trafficking in persons. In early 2005, there were allegations of the involvement of the Rwandan Defense Forces in the recruitment of child soldiers from two refugee camps in Rwanda. Senior officials stated that recruitment of child soldiers was against government policy and investigated the incidents in May. There have been no further reports of any recruitment of child soldiers from refugee camps.
The government increased its efforts to protect trafficking victims during the year. The Rwandan Demobilization and Reintegration Commission (RDRC) broadcast radio programs in eastern D.R.C. reiterating the government's policy of accepting all returnees who disarm and renounce violence, and granting immunity from prosecution for war crimes to anyone who was under 14 years of age during the 1994 genocide. As a result, some Rwandan child combatants voluntarily fled the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda, an armed rebel group operating in eastern D.R.C., and returned to Rwanda. The RDRC continued operation of a center for child ex-combatants, which provided three months of care and education to returning children; 39 children resided at the center in March 2006. The RDRC worked with local authorities and an NGO to locate the children's families, and social workers sensitized the families before their child's return. During the period, 104 former child soldiers were reunited with their families and the government followed up with 364 previously returned children to assess the success of their reintegration. The lack of child labor inspectors, combined with a dearth of vehicles and fuel, made regular inspections of child labor usage difficult; however, there were no reports of internal trafficking of children for forced labor. The Ministry of Gender worked with NGOs to provide health services, housing, and vocational training to children engaged in prostitution.
The government focused its limited resources on addressing the root causes of the engagement of children in prostitution during the period. In February 2005, the inter-ministerial National Consultative Committee on Child Labor was established to draft a national child labor action plan; a first draft of the plan was released in August 2005, focusing on educational and vocational alternatives for girls who head households and the final draft is scheduled for adoption in May 2006. The government developed and broadcasted radio programs, including two radio debates in June and October, to raise public awareness of child sexual exploitation and related legal reforms. The Ministry of Education's "catch-up program" provided services to 1,800 vulnerable unschooled children, including domestic workers, heads of households, and street workers, between the ages of nine and 14. In October, the Rwandan Women Parliamentary Forum organized meetings throughout the country to heighten awareness among potential trafficking victims of gender-based violence.