Rwanda: Our Focus Is to Ensure All Rwandans Have a Chance At Decent Life - Govt

7 February 2020

The Government of Rwanda has reacted to a recent report by Human Rights Watch calling accusations made by the organisation against Rwanda as "cynical and vile".

The Government was responding to the report by the rights body which it says gives a false narrative about Rwanda's management of street children and other vulnerable citizens.

The report released last week, claims the country's legislation for reintegrating people with deviant behaviours "have only regulated and enshrined arbitrary detention".

The HRW report reduces the efforts by the Government to rescue street children and to integrate them into society to an exercise aimed at "cleaning Kigali streets".

HRW singles out Kigali Transit Centre located in Gikondo, a city suburb, as a place where street children are "subjected to abusive and inhumane conditions".

The centre in question is a reception facility where children rescued from miserable conditions in all parts of Kigali are taken for screening before a right course of action is taken on how best they can be helped to integrate into society.

Countrywide, there are 28 such centres, according to the National Rehabilitation Service.

"Once at the centres, they (children) are screened to determine identity and immediate needs like medical treatment, hygiene essentials, clean clothing and bedding," reads a government statement released on Thursday, February 6.

Following the screening, the children are either taken back to their families or guardians or transferred to a rehabilitation centre.

Specifically at the Gikondo centre, according to the Government, a screening committee meets daily to analyze each case that arrives at the facility.

"The committee assesses whether a child can be reunified with the family, transfers those with physical and psychological problems to health facilities, and enrols those without health problems in rehabilitation centres," the statement indicates.

Between 2017 and 2019, the Kigali Transit Centre screened and reunified 1261 children with their families, while 2564 were transferred to the Government-operated Gitagata Rehabilitation Centre and 18 other private rehabilitation facilities in the country, managed by civil society and faith-based organizations.

"The Government of Rwanda is strongly committed to protecting its children. Among other institutions responsible for protecting children's rights is the Ministry of Gender and Family Promotion and the National Commission for Children," says the statement.

Most specifically, the centre's, like the different government-run rehabilitation centres, are managed by Rwanda Rehabilitation Service.

Among the mechanisms put in place to ensure former street children have a better chance at a decent life, is the establishment of the Gitagata Rehabilitation Centre that is located in Bugesera District.

Rehabilitation goes with giving the children formal and informal education and offers psychological support among others.

"Today hundreds of former street youth have acquired valuable, life-changing skills in areas such as tailoring, catering, carpentry, welding, plumbing, masonry, driving and others."

"Most have turned out to be resourceful, self-sustaining and law-abiding citizens.

The Government pledged to continue strengthening protection and rehabilitation institutions "to ensure that every Rwandan citizen, especially vulnerable children and young people get the best chance of living a normal and decent life."

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