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Rwanda dismisses 2016 Trafficking in Persons Report as false

The Government of Rwanda Thursday described as a gross misrepresentation of the reality the claims contained in this year’s State Department’s report on Trafficking in Persons (TIP).

Rwanda is a source, and to a lesser degree, a transit and destination country for a limited number of women and children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking, according to the report published Thursday by the U.S. State Department.

The report puts Rwanda in Tier 2 Watch List, meaning governments do not fully comply, but are making significant efforts to bring themselves into compliance, as well as other negative indicators.

The report said Rwandan girls and boys are exploited in domestic service through extended family networks; some of these children experience physical or sexual abuse and non-payment of wages.

Myanmar, Sudan and Haiti are currently among the worst offenders for human trafficking, according to the report.

On Rwanda, it said, "The government’s law enforcement efforts to combat trafficking continued, though some officials were complicit in sex trafficking and the recruitment of Burundian refugees into armed groups."

However, a government statement said what the report says about Rwanda has nothing to do with reality or facts on the ground.

"It has much more to do with politics serving some purpose, played by some known groups and interests," Rwanda’s Ambassador to Washington, Mathilde Mukantabana said in the statement.

The statement said vague and subjective standard of "lack of continuing improvement" has been used to downgrade Rwanda, despite ample evidence to the contrary, some of which the report itself documents.

More than any government in similar circumstances, it said, the government of Rwanda has deployed significant means to protect and ensure the well-being of refugees.

Rwanda is home to more than 162,000 refugees, mainly from DR Congo and Burundi.

"Our efforts to provide for our brothers and sisters from the region who sought refuge in various parts of Rwanda are based on our long-standing values rather than any external reports," added Ambassador Mukantabana.

The Government insists it has exerted serious efforts to protect its citizens from the menace against human trafficking.

"This announcement is a deliberate misrepresentation of how these issues are being addressed in Rwanda. It ultimately damages the international effort, to which Rwanda is no less committed than the United States, to protect people especially women and girls from human trafficking and sexual exploitation. I categorically reject this report, its conclusions and the false allegations to support them," said Mukantabana.

As the report was being released in the U.S., Members of Parliament in Kigali called on the government to step up campaigns at the grassroots level to educate young people about the dangers of human trafficking and protect them from prostitution, drug trafficking and forced labor.

Speaking at a meeting with the MPs, Rwanda’s Inspector General of Police Emmanuel Gasana said 74 cases of trafficking in human beings were received in the last fifteen months from 2015 up to March 2016.


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