The government increased law enforcement efforts to combat cross-border trafficking crimes but continued to make inadequate efforts to address internal trafficking crimes. In September 2018, the government adopted a standalone anti-trafficking law, the Law on the Prevention, Suppression, and Punishment of Trafficking-in-Persons and Exploitation of Others, which criminalized sex trafficking and labor trafficking. The law prescribed penalties of 10 to 15 years’ imprisonment and a fine of 10 million to 15 million Rwandan francs ($11,240 to $16,850), which increased to 20 to 25 years’ imprisonment and a fine of 20 million to 25 million Rwandan francs ($22,470 to $28,090) if the offense was transnational in nature. These penalties were sufficiently stringent, and with regard to sex trafficking, commensurate with those prescribed for other serious crimes, such as rape. However, the law defined trafficking broadly to include illegal adoption without the purpose of exploitation.
The National Public Prosecution Authority (NPPA) reported increased efforts compared to the government’s previously reported timeframe, initiating 86 trafficking case investigations and prosecuting at least 53 alleged traffickers in 53 cases of suspected trafficking between October 2017 and September 2018. Of the 16 cases that courts ruled on, the NPPA reported obtaining convictions for at least 13 traffickers in 13 cases and prescribing penalties ranging from two to seven years’ imprisonment and fines between 1 million Rwandan francs ($1,120) and 10 million Rwandan francs ($11,240). During the previous reporting period, the government reported investigating 65 cases, prosecuting 25 cases, and convicting 12 traffickers. In 2018, the government did not vigorously prosecute and did not convict any perpetrators of internal sex and labor trafficking crimes, despite the presence of trafficking within the country. The government admitted difficulty prosecuting and convicting trafficking offenders due to limited investigative and prosecutorial anti-trafficking knowledge and resources, lack of victim testimony, and lack of cooperation by other governments. The government did not report any investigations, prosecutions, or convictions of government employees complicit in human trafficking offenses.
The Rwanda Investigation Bureau (RIB) continued to operate a 15-officer anti-trafficking unit in its Criminal Investigations Division. The Rwanda National Police (RNP) directorate for anti-gender-based violence (GBV) had three officers in each of the country’s 78 police stations who served as points of contact for trafficking victims. The government continued to provide anti-trafficking training as a part of standard training and professional development for immigration officers, police, labor inspectors, judicial officials, and social workers; the government provided training to 40 officials on referral and treatment of victims and 32 officials on investigation, interviewing, and reporting on trafficking crimes. The RNP continued to convene quarterly meetings of provincial and district police, investigators, prosecutors, and immigration officials to provide ongoing training on Rwanda’s anti-trafficking laws, trafficking indicators and investigation techniques, which reached an additional 57 investigators. However, the government did not report provision of training to law enforcement personnel on a victim-centered approach and victim-witness support mechanisms. In partnership with international organizations, the government facilitated an international anti-trafficking training for 100 police, military and corrections officers from 41 African countries.