Friday, 26 July 2013

Rwandan ‘sex slaves’ rescued in Uganda

Rwandan ‘sex slaves’ rescued in Uganda

Some of the marijuana, worth Rwf17 million, seized in the operation in Rwanda. Saturday Times/ Timothy Kisambira

Six Rwandan victims of sex exploitation have been rescued by Uganda Police. The Rwandan women were recently rescued after police raided a brothel called Safe Way in the western Uganda district of Bushenyi, according to Asan Kasingye, Uganda Police’s Director of Interpol and International Relations. The operation was conducted July 16-18, 2013.

The victims were set free during an operation, code named Usalama, which was simultaneously conducted in member countries of the Eastern Africa Police Chiefs Cooperation (EAPPCO) and the Southern Africa Regional Police Chiefs Cooperation (SARPCCO).

Kasingye disclosed the operation at a press conference in Kampala called yesterday.

The police were still investigating how long the ring had been in operation and whether there were more victims.

Grace Akullo, the director Criminal Investigations in the Uganda Police, told Saturday Times yesterday that the police got to know of the case after complaints from the Rwanda High Commission in Kampala.

She said that the girls had been in captivity for two months and that different people would pick them at the brothel and sexually exploit them.

“They were told that they were coming to work. But they ended up at a brothel where the owner of the facility would pay them Sh30,000 per month [about Rwf8,000] and they would be abused by different people,” Akullo said.

She added that there was a similar case in 2011 when a Rwandan girl was trafficked, defiled and forcefully married in Insingiro District, western Uganda.

She said that the Police managed to rescue her and reunited her with her family.

It is believed that many more cases of this kind go unnoticed and perpetrators walk scot-free.

The report of the operation, a copy of which Saturday Times has obtained, indicates that the victims of alleged sex slavery were also mistreated while under captivity.

The victims were handed over to the Rwanda High Commission in Uganda and were returned home, the report said.

The acting Commissioner of Rwanda Criminal Investigation Department (CID) Tony Kuramba could not confirm or deny the reports when contacted yesterday.

And efforts to contact the Rwandan embassy were futile by press time.

But Ugandan Police said that they have charged the suspects with human trafficking.

According to the report, countries of destination for victims of human trafficking in the region are South Sudan, Kuwait, South Africa, United Arab Emirates, India, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Kenya and Holland.

Usalama operation aims at cracking down on cross border and transnational crimes.

The operation was initiated by EAPCCO and SARPCCO member countries with a view to jointly lay strategies to enhance security cooperation.

In a joint meeting last year it was agreed that the operation be conducted in all the member countries on the same dates to ascertain the causes and the status of cross border crimes.

Meanwhile, in a bid to help crackdown on cross border crimes, Uganda Police has said that they have finalised plans to have a common scanner stationed at the Rwanda-Uganda border of Gatuna.

“A scanner will soon be purchased to detect and recover guns and other items used in cross border crimes like human trafficking and motor vehicle theft,” Kasingye said.

Kasingye noted that with security having been tightened at Entebbe International Airport, criminals are now considering using some of the region’s porous borders to commit crimes.

Contraband seized in Rwanda

The Usalama operation in Rwanda meanwhile seized marijuana worth over Rwf 17 million.

Addressing a news conference at Kicukiro Police station yesterday, Kuramba explained that the operation targeted human, drug, and arms traffickers.

During the same operation, 25,093 litres of illicit brew were seized, most of which were smuggled into the country from Uganda, Burundi, Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

“We didn’t find any case of human trafficking and we intend to install machines on all our borders to detect smuggled vehicles,” he said.

At least 75 suspects were arrested in connection with contraband, he said.

In the area of arms trafficking, no case was reported as well as car theft.

“The operation was successful, the objective is to ensure that the cross border crimes are totally eliminated,” the police officer further said.

During the operation, five brothels were closed in Kigali, he added, and five people arrested for operating the illegal business.

According to Kuramba, the brothels were mainly targeting students.

The national Usalama reports were forwarded the Interpol headquarters in Nairobi and next month members will convene in Entebbe, Uganda to discuss possible solutions.

Currently EAPCCO is made up of 12 member countries including Burundi, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Seychelles, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda.

SARPCCO also consists of 12 member countries namely Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

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Rwandan ‘sex slaves’ rescued in Uganda


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