Top police officers have shed light on recent regional media reports on child trafficking, especially on one particular case linked to a Rwandan national.
In November last year, Scovia Mbabazi, a Ugandan of Rwandan origin is reported to have kidnapped a 15 year old boy from Rwanda with the intention of selling him in Uganda before she was apprehended.
In a press briefing at Police Headquarters in Kacyiru, Thursday, Mary Gahonzire, the Acting Commissioner General of Police and Tony Kulamba, the in-charge of Interpol, Country Office, acknowledged and explained the horrifying child trafficking incident. They also dispelled fears that things could be running out of hand.
“We are very strict when it comes to the movement of minors, adults moving with children have to first produce authorization from their village (umudugudu) proving that the child’s father or both parents have approved,” Gahonzire said.
She stressed that the Police, immigration department and other security organs have relevant directives and “very tough measures” regarding people who move with children who do not belong to them.
Asked to brief reporters on the matter concerning the Rwandan boy, Kulamba pointed out that on receiving the report, the matter was dully followed up and the boy would soon be repatriated home.
“We indeed followed up on it, we talked with Interpol – Kampala and even our embassy in Kampala,” he said.
“It is true someone had taken a child with the intention of selling him in Uganda but she was caught. That lady was handed over to the authorities in Uganda and the child is in police custody at child protection unit.”
“In the contacts we had with Interpol – Kampala, they followed up the issue, now the child is about to return to Rwanda,” Kulamba added, also bringing to light another almost similar incident where another Rwandan child was also recently rescued in Uganda.
“That case was also received by police and most probably tomorrow (Friday), this child will also come home. There are two cases, but they have all been well followed up, both children will soon come and when they arrive, we will present them to you,” he said.
Meanwhile, Moses Sakira, the head of Interpol Uganda confirmed in an interview Wednesday that arrangements were being made for the boy to be re-united with his family.
He also revealed that Mbabazi has since been arraigned and charged with child kidnapping, he said that she is currently in prison but declined to divulge further details of the sentence.
In an interview, the boy who is identified as Valerie Habyarimana said he was in good health.
“I have been treated well ever since I arrived at the police station, much better than the home where I was staying. I have no problem but I would like to go back home and share my bad experience with my family,” Habyarimana said in an interview.
During the press briefing, Gahonzire quickly assured Rwandans that the current revelations do not imply that there are children massively trafficked from Rwanda.
“It is very hard and difficult for you to steal a child here, but what we want to say is that we are sensitizing the population today to be very strict on this matter and even help us,” she said, adding that strict measures have been put up at the airport and country border crossings.
“You cannot go with a young child who is not registered in your passport and cross a border. Border patrol will arrest you, the police will arrest you, and all other security organs will arrest you,” she added.
Gahonzire also said they were aware of the dangers faced by albinos as the latter have also become targets, especially in Burundi and Tanzania, where there is a growing criminal trade in albino body parts.
“We are very mindful of that too and there are adequate measures,” she said.
Albinos in Tanzania are still targeted for body parts used in witchcraft, despite a government’s crackdown on the practice.