The New Times (Kigali)

16 May 2013

Rwanda: Step-Up Fight Against Human Trafficking, Rwandan Tells UN Summit

A Rwandan diplomat at the Rwandan mission at the UN has asked the world body to devise urgent measures to curtail human trafficking as the crime is on the increase.

Jeanne d'Arc Byaje, Rwanda's deputy Permanent Representative to the UN, on Tuesday, told the General Assembly meeting on the Appraisal of the UN Global Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Persons that the stakes in human trafficking are too high to be ignored any further.

"Since 2009, 130 cases of human trafficking have been recorded in Rwanda. These include cases of victims who have been recovered or intercepted and others that are still in the hands of criminals," Byaje said.

She said the crime is exacerbated by poverty, unemployment, inequality, social exclusion, marginalisation and racism.

Human trafficking is an offence in Rwandan. It emerged as a threat in 2009 when Police started receiving complaints.

How Rwanda fights the crime:

Byaje said investigations in the country show that the most targeted group is girls aged between 16-22, especially from vulnerable groups such as orphans and those from low-income families.

In March, Rwanda National Police intercepted a foreign agent, who had recruited 12 young Genocide orphans, promising them work and opportunity to study abroad.

"Rwanda established, equipped and staffed Transnational Organised crime division in the Criminal Investigation of the Rwanda National Police with competent officers to investigate and lay out strategies to combat this crime," said Byaje.

She said the legislation on human trafficking has also been reviewed and amended to suit the current trends of the crime.

"Rwanda has recognised the importance of coordinating efforts across agencies, including working with new partners such as non-governmental organisations dedicated to combating human trafficking and various other service providers," she said.

During the meeting, top UN officials also urged the Assembly to implement key anti-human trafficking treaties and to cooperate more closely to counter the multi-billion dollar crime, which has trapped some 21 million people in forced labour.

Assembly President Vuk Jeremic said, "No effort must be spared to bring to an end the servitude of millions, while helping the survivors rebuild their lives."

UN chief Ban Ki-moon said human trafficking is a vicious chain that binds victims to criminals, adding that this chain must be broken with the force of human solidarity.

"To achieve justice, we need a strong foundation in the rule of law. This demands putting a stop to the corruption that pollutes many transactions. We have to strengthen judicial systems and help governments earn the trust of their people," Ban said.

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