Police and local leaders in Nyamasheke District have warned parents against engaging children in commercial and hectic activities, and becoming a barrier to their education.
The caution comes after separate operations in which minors have been rescued from homes and markets where they were being used in hectic commercial activities.
Mid last month, Police intercepted 25 children, who were at the time found carrying goods to Mwezi market in Karengera Sector.
The minors, who were escorted by their parents, carried sacks of sweet potatoes and beans, among others, during hours when they were supposed to be at school.
Just on Tuesday, other 23 children were found carrying heavy goods to Mwezi and Rwesero markets in Karengera and Kagano sectors, respectively, also in Nyamasheke.
The minors were at the time carrying sacks of cassava, sweet potatoes and mangoes.
Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Gerald Habiyambere, the District Police Commander (DPC) of Nyamasheke said the intercepted minors include those as young as seven years.
“15 children aged between 7 and 14 years were stopped in Kagano as they headed to Rwesero market carrying varied foodstuffs, while other nine were at the time carrying goods to Mwezi market. This was also within the time when they were supposed to be attending school classes,” said SSP Habiyambere.
He warned parents against obstructing child education and subjecting children to harmful acts, adding that operations against child labour will continue.
“Proper upbringing of children is not only the responsibility of parents but the entire community. If you see these minors being subjected to hard labour in their homes, denied education or subjected to corporal punishment, it becomes your responsibility to report such child abuses,” SSP Habiyambere emphasized.
The law defines a child as anyone below 18 years.
It also defines child labour as the denial of children’s rights and a barrier to holistic child development.
The Vice-Mayor of Nyamasheke in charge of Social Affairs, Claudette Mukamana also reminded parents to take the primary responsibility of proper upbringing of children, protecting and promoting their rights, and sending them to school.
“We warn parents against preventing children from going to school so as to carry goods to the market. Such acts affect their future and that of the country,” Mukamana said.