Police in the Eastern Province have rescued four children from a child labor scheme where they were supposed to be taken to one of the neighboring countries to work as goat grazers.
Police rescued the children from Nyagatare District, Karama sector, Ndego cell as they were being transported through Rutoma Village, a porous area.
Police also arrested Lambert Semana 48 who was transporting the children. The suspect claims to have agreed with the parents of the four minors to carry-out the illegal act.
Preliminary investigations reveal that parents of the four children aged between the ages of 13-15 connived with Semana to take them to a place known as Gahondo in Uganda for purposes of herding goats for a pay.
According to the laws, the four children fits within the classification of minors that not permissible for the kind of work they were being take to do.
The Eastern Region Police Spokesperson Chief Inspector of Police (CIP) Thobald Kanamugire said that the children have since been reunited with their parents.
He said the minimum employment age in Rwanda is 16 years. Children between the ages of 16 to 17 are, however, allowed to perform some limited activities and work as stipulated by the law.
Children aged between the ages of 13 to 15 are allowed to perform light work, including domestic work and other family income generating activities inside or outside of their household, in not more than 20 hours a week.
The penal code punishes child labour with imprisonment term of up to seven years and a fine of up to Rwf500, 000.
“If it’s established that parents were involved they will also be held liable to the act,” said the spokesperson.
Rwanda has laws aimed at fighting child labour by making education compulsory up to age 14 and prohibiting their employment in hazardous occupations.
In June 1999, Rwanda became a signatory to the Convention of the International Labour Organization on prohibition and immediate elimination of worst forms of child labor.
The law relating to the rights and protection of the child states in its article 51 that, all forms of economic exploitation of a child by requiring him or her to accomplish a work that is likely to put him or her at risk or to compromise his or her education or to harm his or her health, her physical, mental, spiritual, moral or social development are prohibited and punishable by law.