U.S. Department of State 2004 Trafficking in Persons Report - Rwanda

Rwanda (Tier 2)

Rwanda is a source country for women and children trafficked for the purposes of sexual exploitation, domestic labor, and soldiering. Small numbers of Rwandan women are trafficked internally or to Europe for prostitution. As a consequence of the 1994 genocide and the AIDS epidemic, children comprise 50% of the population; an estimated one million orphans are vulnerable to exploitation. A small number of child victims are trafficked to Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (D.R.C.). UNICEF estimates that 2,100 child prostitutes are active in Rwanda. Many impoverished children enter prostitution as a means of survival. Former adult prostitutes prey on children from rural areas, recruiting them to work in cities, often under false pretenses. The Rwandan Government has demobilized more than 500 child soldiers returning from the Congo; upwards of 2,500 are expected to return by the end of the repatriation effort.

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. The government should vigorously investigate and prosecute alleged traffickers and begin to systematically monitor the trafficking problem.


Rwanda has no law specifically prohibiting trafficking in persons. However, traffickers could be prosecuted under laws that criminalize slavery, coerced prostitution, kidnapping, and child labor. In 2003, the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Gender and Family Protection began a review of trafficking-related laws to identify gaps and to develop a strategy to improve the legal framework. No traffickers have been prosecuted, but the government, under direct presidential order, vigorously prosecutes cases involving sex crimes, particularly those committed against children. Rwanda prosecuted 581 persons accused of sexual crimes against children in 2003. The police assisted local authorities in identifying and destroying homes being used as brothels. In 2003, the Swedish police trained 24 Rwandan law enforcement officers to identify and investigate cases of trafficking. They also assisted Rwanda in the opening of a forensic lab in 2004 to aid police in building stronger cases against traffickers. The government monitors immigration and emigration patterns, as well as border areas that are accessible by road.


In January 2004, the government opened a residential demobilization center to prepare child soldiers returning from the D.R.C. for reintegration into their home communities. The children receive three months of rehabilitation, including counseling, medical screening, and schooling. This center is funded by the government and has received approximately 100 former child soldiers. The National Unity and Reconciliation Commission holds sensitization meetings to train the families of returning child soldiers to accept and avoid stigmatizing them. The Ministry of Local Government and Social Affairs supports these families financially, through the provision of school fees, uniforms, and supplies. In addition, the Demobilization Commission supports Centers for Youth Training, where older children not returning to school learn a vocation. Throughout the country, the National Police and the Ministry of Gender and Family Protection have set up a network of doctors on 24-hour call to treat victims of sexual assault. The doctors assist police in building stronger cases against accused perpetrators.


In November 2003, the Ministry of Public Service hosted a conference to develop a strategy to address trafficking. The government conducted programs to prevent women and children from becoming victims of trafficking. During 2003, the Ministry for Gender and the World Food Program piloted a school lunch project in 200 schools to promote enrollment. The Ministry also ran solidarity camps to help street children reintegrate into their home communities and is studying the issue of child-headed households. Training on sex crimes and crimes against children is now a standard part of the police training curriculum, spurring officers to begin a program to educate primary school students on the common ploys used by traffickers. The Ministry of Labor deployed one inspector to each province to monitor hazardous child labor situations.


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