Trafficking in Persons Report 2008 - Rwanda

RWANDA (Tier 2)

Rwanda is a source country for 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 by loosely organized prostitution networks. Small numbers of children from Rwanda's Eastern Province may be trafficked to Uganda for work on tea plantations or use in commercial sexual exploitation. During the reporting period, recruiters for a renegade Congolese general, fraudulently promising civilian employment, conscripted an unknown number of Congolese boys and men from Rwanda-based refugee camps, as well as Rwandan children from towns in Rwanda, for forced labor and soldiering in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (D.R.C.).

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's efforts to prevent human trafficking markedly increased during the reporting period, its anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts remained extremely limited. The government did not provide data on actions, if any, taken against traffickers during the year.

Recommendations for Rwanda: Enact and enforce the anti-trafficking provisions of the draft Penal Code through investigations and prosecutions of traffickers; take additional steps to remove children from prostitution and domestic servitude and to provide for their care; request that an NGO or international organization protection partner independently follow up with a cross-section of former child combatants, including victims of trafficking, to assess their reintegration; and request an independent assessment of the conscription of children by armed groups along the Rwanda – D.R.C. border.


The government's anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts were very limited during the reporting period; no prosecutions or convictions of traffickers were reported. Rwandan law does not prohibit all forms of trafficking in persons, though existing statutes prohibit slavery, child labor, kidnapping, forced prostitution, and child prostitution, under which traffickers could be prosecuted. Comprehensive draft anti-trafficking legislation was incorporated into penal code revisions that passed Parliament's first review in September 2007 and remain under consideration by Parliament's Political Committee. The existing Child Protection Law is also undergoing reform; during the year, a draft law intended to protect street children by criminalizing the actions of hotels and cinema halls that provide venues for child prostitution was incorporated into this revision. On the local level, some districts, such as Nyaruguru District, adopted and began to implement bylaws preventing child labor, and child labor benchmarks were integrated into district performance contracts.

The government did not prosecute any trafficking cases during the year, but reported one ongoing investigation into child trafficking from Burundi to Uganda through Rwanda. The government also investigated the July 2007 unlawful recruitment of eight children from Kiziba refugee camp who were fraudulently induced to leave the camp by a Congolese armed group for the purposes of forced labor and soldiering; the outcome of the investigation is not publicly available. Labor inspectors issued warnings and levied fines during the reporting period against those illegally employing children; no cases of exploitative or forced labor were brought to court. At border crossings and security checkpoints throughout the country, the National Police questioned men traveling with children without an adult female and inspected suspected irregularities, including any possible indications of trafficking; such inspections yielded no reported cases of trafficking. During the year, two police officers received specialized training in recognizing trafficking and police cadets received training on child 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 D.R.C. by the United Nations Mission to the Congo; approximately 19 children arrived at the center during the 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 2007, 62 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. However, a 17-year-old Rwandan repatriated in March 2007 reported not being transferred to the Muhazi center, but instead being taken to a military camp where he was interrogated, accused of being an FDLR agent, and ill-treated. In May 2007, Rwandan authorities and UNHCR made a joint assessment visit to Rwanda's refugee camps for displaced Congolese to verify reports of children being unlawfully and fraudulently recruited for purposes of forced labor and soldiering and to devise protective mechanisms. In the months that followed, the Ministry of Local Government, the National Refugee Commission, and UNHCR established a joint committee that met with refugee committees in the camps to warn them about the dangers of fraudulent and unlawful recruitment and to urge reporting of known incidents; specific data on or concrete outcomes of these discussions and workshops were not reported.

In October 2007, the police headquarters in Kigali established a hotline and examination room for victims of gender-based violence that are staffed by trained counselors; these could be used by female victims of trafficking. Some local authorities identified children in prostitution and brought them to the attention of local organizations for assistance. In "catch-up" education programs spread over 60 centers, the Ministry of Education provided education for 7,645 children who had missed all or part of their primary education due to work. The government did not encourage victims to participate in investigation and prosecution of trafficking crimes, nor did it ensure that child victims of commercial sexual exploitation were not penalized for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of their being trafficked.


The government's anti-trafficking prevention efforts significantly increased during the reporting period. At a June 2007 press conference, the Minister of Family and Gender Promotion announced Parliament's introduction of a bill against child trafficking. To complement the announcement, the government organized a 300-participant march through the city that included former child laborers; the march and rally that followed received extensive coverage by broadcast and print media. In early 2008, the Ministry of Public Service and Labor and a local NGO jointly taught a two-day refresher training on child labor to 29 of 30 district labor inspectors. Local government child development committees sensitized parents and children on child labor issues, reported cases of child labor to local authorities, and assumed responsibility for monitoring affected children's education and protection. On market days, police in some districts sensitized parents of working children on the negative impacts of child labor. Five districts in Western Province developed a joint action plan to combat child labor. In addition, five districts, including Bugasera, Gatsibo, and Rulindo, established child labor task forces comprised of the vice-mayor, education officer, police, army child protection officer, teachers, and other local leaders to undertake cell-level assessments of the extent of exploitative child labor. In an effort to reduce the demand for commercial sex acts, men arrested for procuring females in prostitution received sensitization on women's rights, including a brochure on gender-based violence. To prevent teenage mothers from entering prostitution, in March 2008, the National AIDS Control Commission signed an agreement with district leaders in Karongi to create income-generating projects for "child mothers" living in four sectors. In addition to instruction on HIV/AIDS prevention, Rwandan troops deployed to the African Union's peacekeeping mission in Darfur received training on gender sensitivity and sexual exploitation.

Rwanda tier ranking by year


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