Court seeks more evidence in human trafficking appeal case

The Court of Appeal in Kigali on Friday adjourned the ruling in a case involving a one Claver Twagirumukiza, previously convicted on human trafficking charges.

The ruling had been scheduled for yesterday following the substantive trial last month but, judges resolved that they need to hear more from victims and witnesses before the verdict could be pronounced.

“The three victims in the case and witnesses are hereby summoned to this court,” the judge said.

Twagirumukiza was in 2016 sentenced to eight years in jail and ordered to pay Rwf2 million in fine by the High Court in Kigali after he was found guilty of trafficking three girls to neighbouring Uganda, where he subjected them to sexual slavery.

The victims and witnesses testified that Twagirumukiza cajoled the girls and illegally smuggled them to Uganda between April and September 2015 where they became sources of income to him by “pimping” them them to men.

The girls escaped in December 2015 and reported Twagirumukiza to the police after they got back to Rwanda.

During the appeal hearing in February, the convict submitted that the girls were telling lies, arguing that they instead robbed him of his money before they escaped back to Rwanda.

The hearing was presided over by Dr Aimé Kalimunda Muyoboke, the president of Court of Appeal, while Prosecutor General Jean Bosco Mutangana represented prosecution.

The case also involved senior staff attorney at Women’s Link Worldwide, Gema Fernández, who appeared as an amicus curiae (Friend of Court).

The Spanish human rights lawyer, who specialises in human trafficking, violence against women and sexual and reproductive rights cases, explained to court that human trafficking is an intricate crime that needs thorough investigation.

She said that the crime is mainly committed against women and children at 79 per cent, while men are the main offenders.

She called on court to diligently study elements that constitute the crime and deliver justice to victims.

Mutangana submitted that the court should carry out an analysis of a nexus of activities that are evident in the case, arguing that there is a lot of evidence of human trafficking in everything known about the case.

Court of Appeal adjourned the case to April 18 after the victims and witnesses have appeared before the court.


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