Members of the Lower House yesterday passed a draft law against human trafficking and exploitation, a move that will see people who coerce others into forced labour and sexual exploitation severely punished.
The bill, which relates to the prevention, suppression, and punishment of trafficking in persons and exploitation of others was tabled in Parliament by the government.
It seeks to rigorously fight crimes such as taking advantage of prostitution as a pimp, coercing people into doing forced labour whether in Rwanda or abroad, or employing children, among other offences.
Shortly after the draft law was passed yesterday, the State Minister for Constitutional and Legal Affairs, Evode Uwizeyimana, told The New Times that it will bring about clarity when it comes to the details about the kind of crimes committed in the area of human trafficking and exploitation.
“We had a law that simply indicated that human trafficking is punishable but it didn’t give details on the type of crimes that are committed in this area. This draft law lays emphasis on prevention,” he said.
Under the draft law, any person convicted of trafficking in persons shall be liable to imprisonment for a term of not less than ten years and not more than fifteen years and a fine of not less than ten million Rwandan francs and not more than fifteen million Rwandan Francs.
If the offence is transnational in nature, the penalty shall be imprisonment for a term of not less than twenty years and not more than twenty five years and a fine of not less than twenty million Rwandan Francs and not more than twenty five million Rwandan Francs.
Promoting and facilitating trafficking in persons has also been penalised, with convicts being liable to imprisonment for a term of not less than seven years and not more than ten years and a fine of not less than seven million Rwandan Francs and not more than ten million Rwandan Francs.
It also stipulates that any person who comes to know about a victim of trafficking in persons, the commission of the offence of trafficking in persons, or the intention to commit the offence of trafficking in persons and fails to report the matter to the investigation bureau or another competent authority, commits an offence.
Upon conviction, the offender shall be liable to imprisonment for a term of not less than one year and not more than three years.
Public or private companies, institutions, organisations and associations with legal personality which are convicted of the offence of trafficking in persons or exploitation of others, shall be liable to a fine of not less than fifty million Rwandan Francs and not more than one hundred million Rwandan Francs.
On forced labour, slavery or any other related service, any person who makes use of forced labour, slavery or any other related services commits an offence and shall be liable to imprisonment for a term of not less than one year and not more than three years and a fine of not less than one million Rwandan Francs and not more than three million Rwandan Francs.
In a move that aims to eradicate pimping and prostitution, sexual exploitation such as encouraging or aiding others to involve themselves into prostitution, paying for sexual intercourse on one’s behalf or on behalf of another person, providing any place for rent for the purpose of sexual exploitation, and announcing that one facilitates sexual relations have also been penalised.
Such forms of sexual exploitation have been penalised by imprisonment for a term of not less than three years and not more than five years and a fine of not less than three million Rwandan Francs and not more than five million Rwandan Francs.
The minister said that much as the draft law deals with complex crimes, its provisions will be implemented in order to curb the emerging crimes of human exploitation.
“We understand that this is a complex crime to detect but our police officers and prosecutors have been trained on how to detect and prosecute these crimes. We will also continue to invest in capacity building,” Uwizeyimana said.
The next step is presidential assent, before it can be published in the Official Gazette and start being implemented.