The Committee on the Rights of the Child today concluded its consideration of the combined fifth and sixth periodic report of Rwanda on the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. In the dialogue, Committee Experts commended the progress in many areas of children’s rights, including Rwanda’s strong legal framework for the protection of the rights of the child, but expressed concern about the situation of street and refugee children and children in worst forms of labour.
Committee Experts commended Rwanda for the adoption of several laws and the strengthening of the legal framework for the protection of the right of the child. They expressed concern about the practice of rounding up street children and holding them arbitrarily in transit centres. The Experts inquired about the legal basis for the placement of street children in the centres and the steps to ensure the accountability of the guards and others who violated the rights of those children. Experts acknowledged the impressive legislation enacted by Rwanda to support refugees and refugee children, however, it urged the Government to look more carefully into the situation on the ground. What measures were in place to protect them from trafficking and exploitation?
The delegation of Rwanda said that a number of measures had been adopted to support and protect street children. Refuting the allegations of their arbitrary detention, the delegation explained that Law 17/2017 and the ministerial order of 19 April 2018 provided for the mission, organization and functioning of the national rehabilitation centre and the 28 transit centres, found in all 27 districts and Kigali city.
The children were placed in the centres not to “clear up the streets”, but to support and rehabilitate them and, if possible, facilitate family reunification. To date, more than 5,000 street children had been reunited with their families. The delegation said Rwanda “invested money and love” to ensure that children living in the streets enjoyed the rights they were deprived of and it welcomed constructive comments to help improve the efforts to support the children at high risk of abuse.
Committee Experts also expressed concern about the high number of children engaged in worst forms of child labour and hazardous work - 147,000 by some reports. They worked in the tea and coffee, fishing, construction, mining, transport and hospitality sectors, and child labour was one of the leading causes of school dropout for boys.
The delegation stressed that all forms of child labour were prohibited and that legal instruments to investigate and prosecute those who employed children under the age of 16 were in place. The Rwanda Private Sector Federation and the Rwanda Development Board were examining the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights to better inform the legal frameworks and ensure that the best interests of children were put front and centre of business and investment in Rwanda.
Cephas Lumina, Committee member of the task force on Rwanda, in his concluding remarks said that Rwanda had made important strides in the promotion and protection of children rights. In its concluding observations, the Committee would point to the remaining challenges and suggest how to address them.
In her concluding remarks, Soline Nyirahabimana, Minister for Gender and Family Promotion of Rwanda and head of the delegation, said that Rwanda had put the best interest of the child as the highest priority and was moving towards the achievement of the ambitious agenda Vision 2050. Rwanda remained open to constructive criticism that would enable it to achieve its goals.
Luis Ernesto Pedernera Reyna, Committee Chairperson, thanked the delegation and reiterated the Committee’s readiness to work with States parties and support them in the implementation of the Convention.
The members of the Committee’s task force for the examination of the report of Rwanda were Cephas Lumina, Mikiko Otani, Suzanne Aho Assouma and Faith Marshall-Harris.
The delegation of Rwanda consisted of representatives of the Ministry for Gender and Family Promotion, National Commission for Children, Ministry of Justice and the Permanent Mission of Rwanda to the United Nations Office at Geneva.
The Committee will issue the concluding observations on the report of Rwanda at the end of the session, which concludes on 7 February. Those, and other documents relating to the Committee’s work, including reports submitted by States parties, can be found on the session’s webpage.
The webcast of the Committee’s public meetings can be accessed at http://webtv.un.org/.
The Committee will next meet in public at 3 p.m. this afternoon to review the initial report of the State of Palestine (CRC/C/PSE/1) under the Convention on the Rights of the Child.