Rwandans, Muslim community urged to prevent human trafficking

By Elias Hakizimana.

The Rwanda Migration Office and Never Again Rwanda have raised a fresh call for every Rwandan parents especially Muslim community to be cautious on various reasons to send their children abroad in a bid to prevent human trafficking.

The message was delivered on Thursday, December 5, 2019 in Kigali by Polepole in charge of trans-national crimes in Rwanda migration office during an extra-ordinary meeting organized by Never Again Rwanda for Muslim community.

The meeting objectives were to present the research findings of Current Human Trafficking Status and to call up on parents to be cautious of foreign people who promise Rwandan children to be given opportunities including scholarships, jobs outside Rwanda.

“You must see Human Trafficking as the first crime that kill many people. Whoever is sold end up dying and families remain with various consequences such as poverty after losing their child. We request you to prevent Human Trafficking by raising awareness and mobilize people to let them informed of this crime,” Polepole said.

Polepole in charge of trans-national crimes in Rwanda migration office (Photos by Jean Claude Kubwimana).

He said that family conflicts persist when families are involved in Human Trafficking. Human Trafficking puts the government in some unexpected losses when dealing with its people who were trafficked, paying flight tickets and other expenses.

Human Trafficking battle started in 2014 by His Excellency President of the Republic of Rwanda Paul Kagame.

“Can we afford to keep quiet in the face of Human Trafficking? How is it possible that our children particularly girls have become a commodity, even though we are aware of the problem? People are not commercial goods. Ending trafficking of girls goes beyond law enforcement authorities; it is the responsibility of every citizen.” (HE Kagame, 2014).

Slavery did not end in 1983. It continues today as human trafficking, and affects every country in the world.

Human trafficking is a crime, and 43 million people worldwide are victims today. That means three out of every thousand people are subject to forced labor in the World.

Human trafficking is the trade of humans, most commonly for the purpose of sexual slavery, forced labor, or commercial sexual exploitation for the trafficker or others. It involves recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of threat or use of force or other forms of coercion. Human trafficking can also be more accurately described as enslavement, Exploitation of people, day after day. For years on end. 

Muslim families from Kigali during an extra-ordinary meeting to mobilize parents about HT crime

According to Polepole, most common form of human trafficking is sexual exploitation, mostly women and girls. The second most common form of human trafficking is forced labor. Other forms of human trafficking are organs removal and recruitment of child soldiers.

Worldwide, almost 20 percent of all trafficking victims are children under 16.

“In Rwanda, we register more cases of human smuggling than human trafficking due to relationship between residents neighboring countries such as DRC, Uganda and Tanzania. According to 2018 US report on combatting human trafficking, Rwanda is considered as Tier 2, which refers to countries which do not comply fully to standard on fighting HT but are making efforts.” Polepole noted in his presentation.

For the last five years  ago, Rwanda Directorate General of immigration and Emigration (DGIE)

recorded 19 cases of human trafficking in 2014, 34 cases in 2015, 145 cases in 2016, 108 cases in 2017, and 203 cases in 2018 which means 509 cases in total. Data from DGIE reported 515 victims in 2017 and 2018 combined. (77.67%) victims were female while less than a quarter male (22.3%).

Cases are mostly registered from borders and districts bordering neighboring countries. DGIE states that some cases have been prosecuted in court, while others were dismissed mainly because of the absence of perpetrators who recruited victims via social media. Final Destination for victims is mostly Middle-East and Asia through neighboring countries where there are established “recruitment agencies”.

Gisagara, Rwamagana, Kayonza, Huye, Burera, Gicumbi, Kirehe, Nyanza, Nyaruguru and Nyagatare are the districts that registered a good number of human trafficking cases.

Borders that are mostly used are Rusumo, Gatuna, Kagitumba, Akanyaru-Haut, Nemba, Bugarama, Rusizi2, Cyanika or Ruhwa.

Burundi borders mostly used by Traffickers who were taking advantage of the cheap labor market of Burundi, and Ugandan borders were used by traffickers in order to reach Uganda and Kenya before proceeding to their final destination especially in Arab and Asian countries. It was revealed that Muslims and Arabic countries are the most traffickers worldwide.   

Mufti of Rwanda, Sheikh Salim Hitimana urged Rwandans to be careful and avoid any wolf that can kidnap his sheep he must protect.

“I think that we have such wolves in our communities in one image or another, and sometimes it is difficult to detect them, guessing that it is a good Samaritan aid, sometimes we hear from people from our families from Arabic countries who want children from our communities in Rwanda to go to help them, sometimes you play a role as parents via phone calls, we know that when our children reach there, they are exposed to forced labor, which is against humanity. So, we request that information can be given on time to take a quick action” he said.

David Kagolo, a researcher in Never Again Rwanda said that the research was focused on districts that have borders and combined information from migration and NPPA, from different courts and 13% of human trafficking that happened in last three years involved Rwandans, Burundians, and Congolese.

He said that HT crime is a chain where social media is their main tool. Via this chain many people are paid as they keep selling victims on borders.

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Elias Hakizimana

Elias Hakizimana, CEO&Founder of The Inspirer Ltd,(www.rwandainspirer.com) is a professional Rwandan Journalist with Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Communication, received from University of Rwanda’s College of Arts and Social Sciences (CASS) in 2014. He served various media houses in Rwanda including Rwanda Broadcasting Agency (RBA) in 2013 and became passionate with English Online and Print Media Publications where he exercised his talent as a Freelance News Reporter for The New Times, The Independent, The Rwanda Focus, Panorama and more before he became a Self-Entrepreneur as the CEO and Founder of The Inspirer Limited in early 2017.

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