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Human Trafficking & Modern-day Slavery

Poverty drives the unsuspecting poor into the hands of traffickers

Published reports & articles from 2000 to 2025                          

Republic of Rwanda

Rwanda is a poor rural country with about 90% of the population engaged in (mainly subsistence) agriculture. It is the most densely populated country in Africa and is landlocked with few natural resources and minimal industry. Primary foreign exchange earners are coffee and tea. The 1994 genocide decimated Rwanda's fragile economic base, severely impoverished the population, particularly women, and eroded the country's ability to attract private and external investment. However, Rwanda has made substantial progress in stabilizing and rehabilitating its economy to pre-1994 levels, although poverty levels are higher now. GDP has rebounded and inflation has been curbed. Despite Rwanda's fertile ecosystem, food production often does not keep pace with population growth, requiring food imports.  [The World Factbook, U.S.C.I.A. 2009]

Description: Description: Description: Description: Rwanda

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.

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. - U.S. State Dept Trafficking in Persons Report, June, 2009   Check out a later country report here and possibly a full TIP Report here


CAUTION:  The following links have been culled from the web to illuminate the situation in Rwanda.  Some of these links may lead to websites that present allegations that are unsubstantiated or even false.  No attempt has been made to validate their authenticity or to verify their content.



If you are looking for material to use in a term-paper, you are advised to scan the postings on this page and others to see which aspects of Human Trafficking are of particular interest to you.  Would you like to write about Forced-Labor?  Debt Bondage? Prostitution? Forced Begging? Child Soldiers? Sale of Organs? etc.  On the other hand, you might choose to include precursors of trafficking such as poverty and hunger. There is a lot to the subject of Trafficking.  Scan other countries as well.  Draw comparisons between activity in adjacent countries and/or regions.  Meanwhile, check out some of the Term-Paper resources that are available on-line.


Check out some of the Resources for Teachers attached to this website.

HELP for Victims

Rwandan National Police
Gender Violence
0252 3512
Country code: 250-



Ten years after genocide, Rwandan children suffer lasting impact

UNICEF Press Centre, Geneva/New York,  6 April 2004

[accessed 20 December 2010]

The children of Rwanda witnessed unspeakable violence,” Bellamy said. “Tens of thousands lost their mothers and fathers. Thousands were victims of horrific brutality and rape. Many were forced to commit atrocities.  The impact of the tragedy simply cannot be overstated.

Unemployment And Human Trafficking In Rwanda

Berrak Rasool, The Borgen Project, 30 December 2020

[accessed 3 March 2021]

Umutesi is one of the many girls who fell victim to human trafficking in Rwanda. In 2018, an elderly woman approached her and offered a job that seemed like a once in a lifetime opportunity. Desperate for a job, she accepted the offer and traffickers sent her to Nairobi, Kenya under strict orders to hide her passport. Instead of the job at a supermarket she expected to find, she found herself in a slave market, called the office, where prospective buyers browsed.

“We were sold off like mere commodities,” is how she described what had happened to her at the office.


*** ARCHIVES ***

2020 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Rwamda

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, 30 March 2021

[accessed 22 June 2021]


Statistics on the number of victims identified in forced labor were not available. Suspected victims were sometimes detained in transit centers without proper screening or referral to care and assistance.

Government enforcement to prevent forced labor was inconsistent, particularly in cases involving domestic workers. Although not widespread, forced labor reportedly occurred in bars, restaurants, and mines.


The majority of child laborers worked in the agricultural sector and as household domestics. Child labor also existed in isolated instances in cross-border transportation and in the mining industry. Children received low wages, and abuse was common.

Freedom House Country Report

2020 Edition

[accessed 5 May 2020]


Regulations governing wage levels and conditions of work in the formal sector are poorly enforced. While Rwanda has increased prosecutions for transnational trafficking in recent years, Rwandan children are trafficked internally for domestic service under abusive conditions, or for commercial sex work, and little effort is made to hold internal traffickers to account. Many children work informally in the agricultural sector. Young Congolese and Burundian refugees are vulnerable to sexual exploitation and coerced recruitment into armed groups linked to Rwandan security forces.

2017 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor

Office of Child Labor, Forced Labor, and Human Trafficking, Bureau of International Labor Affairs, US Dept of Labor, 2018

[accessed 22 April 2019]

[accessed 5 May 2020]

Note:: Also check out this country’s report in the more recent edition DOL Worst Forms of Child Labor

[page 833]

Children in Rwanda are trafficked internally for domestic work. Some Rwandan children are externally trafficked, primarily to Uganda, Democratic Republic of the Congo, and in East Africa for commercial sexual exploitation and forced labor in domestic work and in agricultural and industrial sectors. (2).

Diverse Human Trafficking Trends in East African Region Highlights Urgent Need for Greater Protection

International Organization for Migration IOM, 12-10-2010

[accessed 18 January 2016]

In Tanzania, IOM found evidence of child trafficking from Burundi, Rwanda and Uganda for sexual exploitation, fishing, domestic servitude and agricultural labour.

Adult victims were identified in the domestic sector, as well as the mining, agricultural and hospitality industries.

The IOM assessment established that Ugandan children are trafficked to all the countries in the region with Uganda also a destination for trafficked victims from Kenya, Tanzania and Rwanda. In addition, instability in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) was found to be fuelling the influx of trafficked children to Uganda. Victims are usually transported by road using buses, lorries and trucks. Adult victims originate from DRC, Kenya and Rwanda in the domestic, agriculture, fishing and sex industries.

Although information on Rwanda was scant, the country was identified as a source for victims destined for Italy, Norway and the Netherlands as well as for child victims destined for Nairobi and the Kenyan coastal city of Mombasa as domestic workers and for sexual exploitation.

Interview of John R. Miller, Director of the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons

International Rescue Committee, Trafficking Watch, Issue No. 5, Summer 2004, October 14, 2004

[accessed 14 august 2012]

MILLER: Due to the special efforts of Rachel Yousey, reports officer for Africa, there is an added emphasis on child soldiering and slavery in this year's report. Although it exists in other parts of the world, this phenomenon is most acute in Africa. When you talk about abolishing child soldiering and slavery, governments need to demonstrate political will and put pressure on military forces to end this practice. There needs to be political will at the top. Our embassies are increasingly addressing this issue. But there's also the issue of rehabilitating these children whose lives and souls are damaged, who need to be reintegrated into society. There are some models we are very impressed with, including a shelter in Rwanda where 12 to 17 year-old former child soldiers are sent for rehabilitative and psychological counseling and services. They relearn their native language and receive help reintegrating into their home communities. We are hoping to replicate programs like these.

VI. Children Without Parents: Victims of Abuse and Exploitation

Human Rights Watch Report, Vol. 15, No. 5 (A), Rwanda Lasting Wounds: Consequences of Genocide and War for Rwanda's Children, March 2003

[accessed 20 December 2010]

Perhaps the most devastating consequence of the genocide and war in Rwanda is the hundreds of thousands of children who have been orphaned or otherwise left without parental care since 1994. During the genocide and afterwards in refugee or displaced person camps, these children were left to cope with atrocities taking place around them and to fight for their own survival. Today, they struggle to rebuild their lives with little help in a society that has been completely devastated. With many living in poverty, they confront the daily challenges of feeding, sheltering, and clothing themselves; trying to attend school; or trying to earn a living. In the meantime, thousands of vulnerable children are exploited for their labor and property and denied the right to education.

Lasting Wounds: Consequences of Genocide and War for Rwanda's Children

Human Rights Watch, Lasting Wounds, April 2, 2003

[accessed 26 September 2016]

IV. Children Attacked

CHILDREN AS TOOLS OF VIOLENCE - Thousands of Rwandan children have been used as tools of genocide and war. Some joined in the campaign to annihilate the Tutsi. Others were recruited by the RPF when it was a guerrilla force or enlisted in the army or Local Defense Forces of the current Rwandan government. Children are recruited to fight in Congo on the side of the Rwandan ally, the RCD, as they are by rebels fighting the Rwandan government, now known as the Army for the Liberation of Rwanda (ALIR).  Although they garner less sympathy, these children taught to kill are victims too.

IX. International Legal Standards

FREEDOM FROM ABUSE AND EXPLOITATION - Children without their parents, like all children, have a right to be free from abuse and exploitation.13 Article 19 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child holds states responsible to protect all children from violence, neglect, mistreatment, abuse, or exploitation at the hands of their parent, legal guardian, or anyone else responsible for their care.14 The Rwandan government has failed to protect these children's rights to be free of exploitation of their labor, to have access to education, and to inherit property.


Human Rights Reports » 2005 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, March 8, 2006

[accessed 10 February 2020]

TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS – There were reports that persons were trafficked from and within the country. The country was a source country for small numbers of women and children trafficked for the purposes of sexual exploitation, domestic labor, and soldiering. Unlike in the previous year, there were no reports of women being trafficked internally or to Europe for prostitution, or child victims being trafficked to Burundi and the DRC. The country was a source country for children internally trafficked for the purpose of sexual exploitation.

The Department of Labor’s 2004 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor

U.S. Dept of Labor Bureau of International Labor Affairs, 2005

[accessed 20 December 2010]

Note:: Also check out this country’s report in the more recent edition DOL Worst Forms of Child Labor

INCIDENCE AND NATURE OF CHILD LABOR - There are isolated cases of Rwandan children being trafficked for the purposes of commercial sexual exploitation, labor, and soldiering.  Children, specifically, have been trafficked to Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  While the Government of Rwanda no longer recruits children for the official Rwanda Defense Forces (RDF, formerly the Rwanda Patriotic Army, or RPA),  Rwanda-supported rebel groups have continued to recruit child soldiers for combat against armed groups in the DRC and Burundi

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