Harsher and severe penalties await anyone caught trafficking a Rwandan citizen, it has been agreed upon during the ongoing National Dialogue in Kigali.
At the moment, perpetrators get a sentence of imprisonment ranging between six months and 15 years, combined with a fine ranging from Rwf 500,000 to 20 million.
“Punishment against human traffickers is too lenient. We need a punishment that should deter perpetrators from this bestial act,” Rwanda’s Minister of Justice, Johnston Busingye.
He said the justice ministry is reviewing the penal code to provide for new crimes including human trafficking and the proposal would be tabled in parliament early 2016.
In a separate interview, Busingye told KT Press that it is too early to confirm what magnitude of the penalty they will provide.
He said the current law gives room for accomplices to get lesser punishment.
“Anyone who contributes to human trafficking network, either by finding victims a visa, picking them at the airport, employing them or reselling them commits a serious crime,” he told KT Press.
For Busingye, the point is to make all the people mindful, such that for example, if someone agrees to help someone obtain a visa is well aware of the motive behind the trip of the applicant.
Meanwhile, figures from the Rwanda National Police indicated that 153 Rwandans were trafficked from 2009 to February 2015.
Of this number, 90% are young girls aged below 35. Investigations revealed that victims are mostly taken to Uganda, Mozambique, Tanzania, United Arab Emirates and Zambia.
Three suspects were recently apprehended, according to Fazili Harelimana, Minister of Internal Security, but did not give more details.
Police says local traffickers seal deals with regional and foreign clients, promising their prey good job opportunities.
“We have a case of a victim who was connected by a pastor to human traffickers of Uganda,” the police spokesperson ACP Celestin Twahirwa has told KT Press.
Children from poor families and those not yet exposed to drugs or gender based violence are the most vulnerable.
Victims, mainly under 18 years, are forced into prostitution or pornography. Some reports say some victims are sold to extract their organs such as kidneys.
In 2015 alone, according to Oda Gasinzigwa, Minister of Gender and Family Promotion, 18 victims were trafficked and 13 have been tracked and returned home.
She also said most of the victims are girls. “Some of them were identified with several health problems, including trauma,” she said.
Marie Grace Uwiyera, a Rwandan living in Belgium has founded a charity organization which will help reintegrate the victims, a commitment she made during the 2014 National Dialogue.
Meanwhile, President Paul Kagame has demanded concerned institutions to ensure no Rwandan is trafficked anymore.
“We cannot accept that Rwandan people be traded like commodities,” Kagame said during the last dialogue.