Rwanda National Police (RNP) and the Immigration department have intercepted twelve Burundian nationals who were being trafficked to Asian countries through Rwanda.
The victims, that included 11 females, were intercepted at Kanyaru border post on January 10, Police said.
Three suspected traffickers who were accompanying them, a Burundian and two Kenyan nationals, who include a woman, were also arrested.
Speaking to the media, yesterday at Police Headquarters in Kacyiru, one of the victims, a 22-year old, said she was approached by one of the Kenyan suspects who made her believe that she was to get her a well paying job in Oman.
“I didn’t know that there were other people recruited, but at Akanyaru, I met other Burundians at the border who were also headed in the same direction,” the senior-five student, said.
“Honestly speaking, I didn’t know anything about human trafficking until we were stopped at the border. Rwandan officials told us how it was carried out and the consequences, and it is exactly how I was recruited by the person I met for the very first time. He cautioned me against telling anyone or else the deal would flop,” she added.
Most of the victims said they had never met their alleged recruiters as it was largely carried out on phone after they were connected by another person, whom they had also met for the very first time in Bujumbura
Deputy RNP spokesperson, Chief Supt. Lynder Nkuranga, said that the victims raised suspicion at the border as they were “not sure” where they were headed.
“This prompted security personnel at the border to intervene, tracked and arrested three members of the trafficking ring. One of the suspects was escorting the victims from Bujumbura while the two Kenyans were waiting for them on the Rwandan side,” Nkuranga said.
The victims were apparently headed to different countries with some of them being told that they were destined for Saudi Arabia, and others for Qatar.
“Human trafficking, be it one case or several, is intolerable and a redline. The consequences for traffickers are the same for both Rwandans and foreign nationals who try to recruit Rwandans or use Rwanda as a destination or transit route,” she warned.
In July last year, police also intercepted three Burundian women who were being trafficked to Saudi Arabia.
Later in September, 28 Rwandans were also rescued from Burundi as they were being allegedly trafficked to Australia.
At least 30 Rwandan victims of human trafficking were rescued, either located in countries where they were trafficked or intercepted before crossing the Rwandan borders, over the last two years. Twenty-three of the victims were girls.
Human trafficking, under the Rwandan law, is punishable with an imprisonment of between seven and ten years and a fine of up to Rwf10 million as stipulated under articles 251 to 253 of the penal code.
However, when the crime of human trafficking is committed internationally, the jail term ranges between 10 and 15 years, and a fine of between Rwf10 million and Rwf15 million.