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RECOMMENDATIONS FOR RWANDA: Investigate, prosecute, and convict perpetrators of forced labor and sex trafficking, including officials and individuals involved in recruitment and use of refugee adults and children into armed groups and sex trafficking; work with UNHCR to strengthen protection for Rwanda’s refugee population, and train Ministry of Disaster Management and Refugee Affairs (MIDIMAR) and security officials to identify and screen for trafficking among refugees; systematically identify trafficking victims among vulnerable populations, and ensure they are not arrested, detained, or punished for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of being subjected to human trafficking; allocate resources for the provision of appropriate long-term protection services, including shelter, for all trafficking victims; continue cooperation with NGOs and international organizations to proactively identify and refer victims to adequate protection services; continue to train law enforcement, judicial officials, labor inspectors, and social workers on the implementation of trafficking laws and victim identification procedures; continue to implement the national anti-trafficking action plan; improve efforts and institute a system to collect trafficking law enforcement and victim identification data; and continue to hold anti-trafficking awareness campaigns.PROSECUTION The government’s law enforcement efforts to combat trafficking continued, though some officials were complicit in sex trafficking and the recruitment of Burundian refugees into armed groups.Most recruits were adult males, but in three verified cases, Burundian refugee children were also identified as recruits from Mahama refugee camp.Refugees reported that Burundian recruits, including women and children, were trained in weaponry by Rwandan military personnel at a training camp in southwestern Rwanda.Between May and September 2015, Burundian refugees residing in Mahama refugee camp in Rwanda were recruited into non-state armed groups supporting the Burundian opposition; Rwandan security forces charged to protect the camp population reportedly facilitated or tolerated the recruitment activity.Many refugees alleged that recruiters—including both Rwandan officials and other refugees—threatened, intimidated, harassed, and physically assaulted those who refused recruitment attempts.Separately, at a Congolese refugee camp, one civilian and three Rwandan Defense Forces soldiers assigned to the camp were accused of facilitating the transport of Congolese child refugees to nearby towns for sex trafficking.
Child trafficking convictions are subject to a minimum five-year prison term, while slavery convictions carry three- to 12-year prison terms.
Rwandan men, women, and children are subjected to sex trafficking and forced labor in domestic work and agricultural and industrial sectors in destinations around the world; the primary destination for Rwandan victims is Uganda, but they are also exploited in East Africa, South Africa, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Malaysia, China, the United States, and Europe.
Some foreign nationals transit Rwanda before experiencing exploitation in third countries.
In particular, the government did not investigate credible allegations that security and military officials were complicit in facilitating the recruitment of Burundian refugees, including adults and children, from Mahama refugee camp into armed groups intended to overthrow the Burundian government.
In addition, the government investigated and court martialed RDF soldiers, who allegedly facilitated the transport of refugee girls to nearby towns for sex trafficking; the government did not publically release the result of the judicial proceedings.
Rwanda is a source, and to a lesser degree, a transit and destination country for a limited number of women and children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking.