The right to protection from exploitation

Children have the duty to obey their parents, guardians and the people who have authority and responsibility over them. However, some adults use their authority to involve children in activities that are dangerous, immoral and hinder their growth, all for economic gain. This goes against article 51 of N°54/2011 of 14/12/2011 the law relating to the rights and the protection of the child which outlaws the economic exploitation of children.

An example of economic exploitation of a child is involving him/her in prostitution. This act has serious repercussions for all the parties involved. According to article 211 of the Penal Code of Rwanda, those who share proceeds from child prostitution receive a minimum term of imprisonment of six months. Those who use or recruit children in prostitution-related activities receive a minimum punishment of a term of imprisonment of more than five years.

Encouraging children to use alcohol and drugs or involving them in the sale of such items is also considered as economic exploitation.

Article 219 of the Penal Code prescribes a term of imprisonment of at least three months for the perpetrators and/or a fine ranging between three hundred thousand and one million Rwandan francs. Article 219 further says, “These penalties shall also apply to any person who encourages a child to drink alcoholic beverages or to smoke or to go to bars.”

Another form of economic exploitation that is frowned upon by article 52 of the law relating to the rights and the protection of the child is engaging children in drug trafficking. Those who are found guilty, according to article 220 of the Penal Code, “shall be liable to a term of imprisonment of two (2) years to five (5) years and a fine of one million (1,000,000) to five million (5,000,000) Rwandan francs.”

Article 222 of the Penal Code pronounces another form of economic exploitation which is the involvement of children in sport activities that are harmful to their health. Anyone who is found guilty of this can face a maximum jail sentence of five years and a fine of one million Rwandan francs.

Using, encouraging, taking and inciting a child to beg is also a form of economic exploitation. According to article 691 of the Penal Code, the punishment for such a crime is a term of imprisonment if one to two years. The term of imprisonment is three years if the child involved is physically or mentally disabled.

The other forms of economic exploitation that are outlawed by article 52 of the law relating to the rights and the protection of the child include slavery, kidnapping and pornography business. Committing such crimes is punishable under the Penal Code.