Police in partnership with stakeholders in policing have embarked on various strategies to combat human trafficking with the major tool being through public awareness campaigns.
Human Trafficking came to the limelight in the recent years as one of the emerging crimes globally in the category of organised and cross border crimes.
In various international policing meetings, human trafficking was seen to be increasing worldwide especially people being trafficked from Africa to Asian and Arab countries, among other destinations.
According to the U.S. State Department, 600,000 to 800,000 people are trafficked across international borders every year, of which 80 per cent are female and half of them children.
However, in the region, the situation is relatively at a very low level compared to other regions.
“In case of Rwanda, we have witnessed few cases of Rwandans being trafficked, but we have also intercepted victims from the region and beyond including Ugandans and Burundians. In 2009, we intercepted 51 Bangladeshi in Kigali, who were in transit to Mozambique,” Police spokesperson, Assistant Commissioner of Police Celestin Twahirwa said.
The establishment of Interpol’s I-24/7 communication system at all exit and entry points in 2013 has enhanced the capacity to detect movement of transnational criminals including human traffickers.
“RNP and its partners took it upon themselves to raise awareness among Rwandans about the dangers of human trafficking as emerging modern day slavery where people are sold as commodities,” ACP Twahirwa said.
He added that the government effort against human trafficking, gender based violence and drug abuse has supported all the policing strategies to protect Rwandans.
“We have bilateral, regional and international cooperation which are complimentary to other government efforts.
In implementation of this cooperation, there have been regional and international campaigns against the crime including command post exercise.
Community awareness through community policing plays a bigger role to inform the general public on modes of human trafficking, the tricks traffickers use, targeted groups, common destinations and the kind of consequences endured by the victims,” said Twahirwa.
The recent US Department of State report on Trafficking in Persons of July 2015 attests to Rwanda’s efforts in combating human trafficking and put emphasis on the country’s prevention measures as outstanding.
“This kind of awareness did not only prevent human trafficking but also smuggling of people. The public has been the main source of information of any suspicion related to human trafficking whether real or perceived and this has helped RNP to keep the crimes at bay,” said the Police spokesperson.
In 2013, RNP successfully rescued a young Rwandan senior six student, who had been trafficked to Zambia through Uganda and Tanzania.
Working closely with the Zambia, Uganda and Tanzania Police forces, and International Police (Interpol), investigations were carried out until she was successfully rescued and returned her to her family.
“We intend to take it to a higher level and jointly achieve more,” he said.
“We wish to appreciate the role of our partners including relevant government institutions, development partners, police ambassadors, Rwanda Youth Volunteers in Community Policing (RYVCP), associations and cooperatives of public transporters, anti-crime clubs in schools and the general public for their continued cooperation in addressing this vice,” Twahirwa said.