Rwanda has warned the world that cases of human trafficking continue to rise everyday – calling for renewed efforts to combat the vice.
The country is hosting a workshop on Combating Trafficking in Human Beings with a Multi-stakeholders’ approach for Central and East Africa.
The workshop, bringing together Law enforcement officers and Criminal Justice practitioners, reviews the current state of Human Trafficking in the region.
Worldwide, according to United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) report, the most common form of human trafficking (79%) is sexual exploitation, with victims predominantly being women and girls.
In a strange scenario, however, women take up the biggest number of human traffickers. The report indicates that second most common form of human trafficking is forced labour.
Human trafficking of children is the most common trend in Africa mostly in the continent’s Western part, the report said.
At the workshop that took place at Onomo Hotel in the capital Kigali on Thursday, Rwanda Investigation Bureau Secretary General Col. Jeannot Ruhunga told participants that trafficked people are vulnerable to life-threatening risks and exploitation, while thousands of people are under intense forced labor, others are engaged in sexual exploitation and some have lost their organs, while others have died.
With numbers, Col. Jeannot said that Rwanda is not left out of the alarming issue.
“Rwanda is also among countries affected by Human Trafficking, and for the last five years, over 189 cases of Human Trafficking and people smuggling involving 378 victims were recorded,” he said.
Last year alone, Col. Ruhunga said, Rwanda Investigations Bureau (RIB) recorded 49 cases involving 80 victims, 78 suspects apprehended and 25 victims rescued and repatriated to their respective countries.
In 2014, President Paul Kagame, while addressing the 12th National Dialogue (Umushyikirano), warned culprits involved in Human Trafficking that Rwanda cannot accept its citizens to be traded like commodities.
At the time, Rwanda National Police had rescued over 60 girls in the past four years who had been victims of Human Trafficking.
In 2017, the Ministry of Justice tabled a new bill seeking to completely overhaul the penal code – with tougher and tighter punishment and deter citizens from getting involved in such crimes.
Under the proposed bill, some punishments would, if passed, attract a 50-year prison sentence once one found guilty of Human Trafficking or attempt to embezzle funds meant for the public.
However, speaking to KT Press on Thursday, Bernard Bashoga – Deputy Clark at Rwanda Parliament said the proposed bill was reshaped under the Organic Law establishing the penal code.
“Yes, that proposed bill was received but we never used it. We reviewed what was in the bill and used them in the new penal code,” he said.
Under Law Nº53/2018 of 13/8/2018 regulating Therapeutic, Education and Scientific Utilisation of Organs and Products of the Human Body in its Article 42 on creation or publication of a site for the purpose of trafficking in persons; any person who establishes or publishes a site on an information network, computer hardware or computer system for the purposes of trafficking in human beings or facilitating such a transaction, commits an offence.
Upon conviction, the law says, he/she is liable to imprisonment for a term of not less than ten (10) years and not more than fifteen (15) years and a fine of not less than ten million Rwandan francs (Rwf 10,000,000) and not more than fifteen million Rwandan francs (Rwf15,000,000).
$13 billion enterprise
Despite serious measures in place to combat Human Trafficking in Africa, the vice remains a lucrative enterprise for perpetrators.
A report compiled by the Africa Centre for Strategic Studies last year, reported that human trafficking is a $13.1 billion annual enterprise in the continent.