U.S. Department of State 2003 Trafficking in Persons Report - Rwanda

Rwanda (Tier 2)

Rwanda is a source country for victims internationally trafficked to South Africa. Internal trafficking for labor and sexual exploitation, particularly of children, occurs. Child prostitution is a serious problem; an international organization estimates that there are 2,140 child prostitutes in the major cities and tens of thousands of street children who are exploited for labor. There were reports that Rwandan-backed Congolese militias operating in the Democratic Republic of the Congo abducted men, women, and children for forced labor and sexual exploitation and to serve as combatants in early 2002. Children and young men are abducted from roadsides, markets, and their homes and then trained in military camps.

The Government of Rwanda does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking in persons; however, it is making significant efforts to do so despite severe resource constraints. The government should implement additional sensitization campaigns designed to increase public awareness on the exploitation of children, investigate allegations of exploited children living and working in the streets, and take concrete steps to implement recently ratified international protocols related to trafficking. The government should also discontinue support for its allies that forcibly conscript child soldiers and encourage them to release those abducted from servitude; and punish those officials or soldiers that carry out such recruitments.


The government participates in an international program to eliminate the worst forms of child labor and a regional program to prevent children from being involved in armed conflict. As part of the government demobilization of child soldiers, it also began training its military's officers and enlisted soldiers on child rights to include monitoring and promoting child rights, international and legal instruments that protect children in armed conflicts, provision of assistance to children in armed conflict, and creation of a regional network of military trainers on children's issues. At least 25 of 100 designated training officers have completed this training. The government is assisting street children with vocational and other educational opportunities. The Ministry of Local Government has organized seminars on child rights for government officials, civil society groups, and police. In collaboration with donors and non-governmental organizations, the government established micro-credit programs for rural women to strengthen their families economically and protect themselves and their children from exploitation.


There is no specific anti-trafficking law, but laws against slavery, prostitution by coercion, kidnapping, rape, and defilement are used to prosecute traffickers. The government actively prosecutes cases of sex crimes, but does not keep trafficking statistics separately. In 2002, there were 479 cases recorded of sex crimes against children. All but a few cases brought to court were fully prosecuted. The government recently ratified seven key international conventions, including the UN Trafficking Protocol. We have no information on government efforts to punish Rwandan soldiers, Rwandan-backed militia, or citizens for supporting the forcible recruitment of individuals in Rwandan-controlled DROC.


The Ministry of Local Government has opened childcare centers that serve as safe-houses for street children in each of the country's 12 provinces. The government continued to reunite children separated from their families, who remain vulnerable to traffickers, during the genocide and civil unrest. The government has released and reintegrated all children imprisoned for participation in the 1994 genocide.


This 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.