Last Updated: Friday, 19 September 2014, 13:55 GMT

Trafficking in Persons Report 2009 - Rwanda

Publisher United States Department of State
Publication Date 16 June 2009
Cite as United States Department of State, Trafficking in Persons Report 2009 - Rwanda, 16 June 2009, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4a42149528.html [accessed 20 September 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

RWANDA (Tier 2)

Rwanda is a source country for some women and children trafficked for the purposes of forced labor and sexual exploitation. Rwandan girls are trafficked within the country for domestic servitude, as well as for commercial sexual exploitation; in a limited number of cases, this trafficking is facilitated by loosely organized prostitution networks. There were isolated reports of such sex trafficking networks operating in secondary schools and universities. In addition, older females reportedly offer vulnerable younger girls room and board, eventually pushing them into prostitution to pay for their keep. Rwandan children are also trafficked to Uganda, Tanzania, and Kenya for agricultural labor or use in commercial sexual exploitation. Recruiters for the National Congress for the Defense of the People (CNDP), fraudulently promising high paying employment, defrauded Congolese men and boys from Rwanda-based refugee camps, as well as Rwandan adults and children from towns in western Rwanda, into forced labor and soldiering in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). In December 2008, the UN Group of Experts on the DRC released a report accusing Rwandan authorities of complicity in the fraudulent recruitment of soldiers, including children, by the CNDP and their movement across the border. Rwandan police or administrative officers reportedly were sometimes present during such recruitment.

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. During the reporting period, the government concluded its first known anti-trafficking prosecution.

Recommendations for Rwanda: Enact and enforce the anti-trafficking provisions of the draft Penal Code through increased investigations and prosecutions of traffickers; take additional steps to assist children trafficked into prostitution and domestic servitude and to provide for their care; and launch a nationwide anti-trafficking public awareness campaign.

Prosecution

The government's anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts increased modestly during the reporting period. Rwandan law does not prohibit all forms of trafficking in persons, though existing penal and labor code statutes prohibit slavery, forced labor, forced prostitution, and child prostitution, under which traffickers are prosecuted. Prescribed penalties under these statutes range from small fines to six years' imprisonment, which are sufficiently stringent but not commensurate with penalties prescribed for other grave crimes. Penal code revisions that encompass draft anti-trafficking legislation remained under consideration by the plenary of the Chamber of Deputies in 2008. Amendments to the Child Protection Law, which include draft provisions criminalizing the actions of hotels and cinema halls that provide venues for child prostitution, were not passed during the reporting period. In 2008, the Cabinet approved revisions to the labor code and transferred them to Parliament for review. On the local level, more than 10 districts have instituted bylaws against child labor that prescribe fines for employers and parents; NGOs reported that these bylaws' provision of fines, accompanied by sensitization campaigns, has had a deterrent effect on child labor in local jurisdictions.

The government did not provide statistics on the punishment of trafficking offenders during the year. However, in May 2008, the Gasabo district court sentenced a man to 30 years' imprisonment for operating an underage prostitution ring. Due to her status as a minor, his 17-year old accomplice received a suspended sentence of five years' imprisonment. This is the country's first known conviction of a trafficking offender. In December 2008, the government arrested, but has yet to charge, three Rwandans suspected of illegally recruiting children and adults on behalf of the CNDP. Labor inspectors issued warnings and levied fines during the reporting period against those illegally employing children; no cases of forced labor were brought to court. At border crossings and security checkpoints throughout the country, the National Police questioned men traveling with children but without an adult female and inspected suspected irregularities, including any possible indications of trafficking; such inspections yielded no reported cases of trafficking.

Protection

With the exception of its care for former child combatants, some of whom are trafficking victims, the government provided few protective services to victims. The Rwandan Demobilization and Reintegration Commission (RDRC) continued operation of a center for child ex-combatants in Muhazi, which provided three months of care and education to children returned from the DRC by the United Nations Mission to the Congo; 28 children arrived at the center during the reporting period, joining 13 children who remained at the center from the previous reporting period. 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; in 2008, 12 children were reunited with their families. RDRC's social workers and district integration officers track each child's progress for two years and provide assistance with school fees and expenses, as well as offering income-generating support to their families.

In January 2009, Rwandan authorities cooperated with Ugandan law enforcement to repatriate a trafficked Rwandan boy to the country. During the reporting period, some local authorities identified children in prostitution and brought them to the attention of local organizations for assistance. The police headquarters in Kigali operated a hotline and an examination room for victims of gender-based violence; both were staffed by trained counselors and could be used by female victims of trafficking. Fully equipped examination rooms were also operational in Gasabo and Rwamagana. In June 2008, the Supreme Court distributed three checklists developed for police officers, prosecutors, and judges, respectively, on proper investigative, protective, and judicial procedures for addressing the needs of sexual and domestic violence victims; these measures are also applicable to the provision of protective services to trafficking victims. Resource and capacity constraints hindered full implementation of these procedures nationwide. In "catch-up" education programs spread over 80 centers, the Ministry of Education provided education for approximately 9,000 children who had missed all or part of their primary education due to involvement in child labor. The government encouraged victims to participate in investigation and prosecution of trafficking crimes and did not penalize victims for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of their being trafficked during the reporting period. Beyond a temporary stay of up to one month, existing legal statutes do not provide foreign trafficking victims with legal alternatives to their removal to a country where they may face hardship or retribution.

Prevention

The government's anti-trafficking prevention efforts significantly increased during the reporting period. There is, however, a general lack of understanding among government officials and the general population of what constitutes human trafficking. In January 2009, the Acting Commissioner General of Police spoke publicly about a case of child trafficking to Uganda and the importance of addressing trafficking crimes as a regional concern. In 2008, the Ministry of Public Serve and Labor (MIFOTRA) and an NGO produced a documentary on child labor that was broadcast on national television eight times. The national university's radio station, in collaboration with labor inspectors, conducted awareness programs for parents, children, and teachers on exploitative child labor. District child labor task forces, comprised of the mayor, the vice mayor for social affairs, police, army child protection officers, education officers, teachers, and local leaders, met bi-monthly and conducted sensitization activities on the dangers and illegality of exploiting child labor, including during monthly community service days. In mid-2008, cell leaders, under the supervision of the Nyaruguru district child labor task force, conducted a survey assessing the extent of exploitative child labor and released the results in February 2009. In an effort to reduce the demand for commercial sex acts, men arrested for procuring females in prostitution received informal sensitization on women's rights, including a brochure on gender-based violence. Rwandan troops deployed to the UN peacekeeping mission in Darfur received training on gender sensitivity and sexual exploitation.

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