Teen rescued from human traffickers in Uganda

The Rwandan High Commission in Uganda, in collaboration with Rwanda National Police, has rescued a minor from slavery in Kampala.
Journalists interview the rescued victim of human trafficking at Police headquarters yesterday. (John Mbanda)
Journalists interview the rescued victim of human trafficking at Police headquarters yesterday. (John Mbanda)

The Rwandan High Commission in Uganda, in collaboration with Rwanda National Police, has rescued a minor from slavery in Kampala.

Together with nine others from Kamonyi, the boy who turns 17 in August, was taken from his family in December, last year, by their church leader who told them that they were going to Kampala, the capital of Uganda, for prayers, but the boy was shocked to hear that he must forget about going returning home.

“Our pastor chose 10 people and told us that we were going to Kampala for prayers. We prayed and after we were told to register with the UN Human Commission for Refugees as refugees for us to get a chance to go to developed countries,” the boy told journalists at Police headquarters in Kacyiru.

“Others registered, but I refused and told the pastor that I wanted to go back home to study as the 2015 academic year was starting in January. He told me to forget about school, I insisted but he ignored my complaints.”

He recalled that he went to Trinity Bus Express station to ask their help to return home.

“They directed me to the embassy, which asked the Ugandan police to arrest our group. We were detained at a police station in Kampala for questioning, but a few days later, others left me in the cell because the official from UNHCR presented their registration as refugees. Later on, I also got released after the intervention of an official from the embassy who helped me get back here,” he said.

Police spokesperson CSP Celestin Twahirwa said they were doing everything to arrest the suspects and warned church leaders to be wary of the “wolves in the sheep skin” in their churches.

“We have the names of those who took him there, we are working with his parents to identify others involved in this case, and we are working closely with the Ugandan police to bring the suspects to book,” he said.

Police did not name the suspects so as not to jeopardise the investigations.

However, Twahirwa said Police were treating the case as human trafficking, adding that they were doing their best to bring back the other victims before they are transported to other countries.

“It is among the deceptions of the human traffickers that people are going to pray, then gather them somewhere, look for others to get a bigger number for sale. So that group of 10, including this rescued child, were innocently waiting to be sold into slavery, but we are trying to save them all,” he said.

He warned parents that human trafficking does not only affect girls and that they must ensure the protection of boys as well.

Two weeks ago, another teenage girl was also rescued from sex slavery in Uganda.

Last year, 25 victims of human trafficking were intercepted in Rwanda on the way to either Europe or Asia.

editorial@newtimes.co.rw

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