RWANDA (TIER 2) [Extracted from U.S. State Dept Trafficking in Persons Report, June 2009]
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.
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.
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.