Street children arbitrarily detained, abused in Rwanda: HRW

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Street kids in Rwanda’s capital, Kigali, are being arbitrarily detained and abused at a holding centre, according to Human being Rights Watch (HRW).

The New York-based rights group said in a report on Monday that susceptible minors held in the center, understood as the Gikondo Transit Centre, were frequently beaten and exposed to overcrowded and unhygienic conditions.

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Johnston Busingye, Rwanda‘s minister of justice, denied the allegations made in the HRW report, explaining Gikondo as a “rehabilitation” centre established to provide children with abilities and “defense”.

” The kids come from broken households. The Rwandan government chose to invest a great deal of cash to get kids off the streets. We are trying to create a future for some individuals,” he told Al Jazeera.

‘ Inhuman and degrading conditions’

HRW said its 44- page report was based upon 30 interviews conducted in between January and October 2019 with kids aged 11 to 17 who were formerly apprehended in Gikondo for durations of as much as six months.

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Twenty-eight of the interviewees said they were beaten, according to HRW. Children were likewise quoted as stating that they needed to share bed mattress and blankets, which were frequently contaminated with lice, while access to medical care was sporadic.

HRW also stated that kids were held at Gikondo without judicial oversight or due procedure, while none of the interviewees were given access to a lawyer, guardian or family member.

Under legislation presented in 2017, people showing “deviant behaviours … such as prostitution, drug usage, pleading, vagrancy, [or] informal street vending,” can be kept in transit centres for up to two months, with no other additional legal justification or oversight, HRW said.

According to the law, transit centres are “properties utilized for accommodating on a short-term basis” people who might then be moved to a rehab centre, specified as “premises utilized for the conduct of activities dedicated to reforming, informing and providing professional abilities and reintegrate any person showing deviant acts or behaviours”.

” Rwandan authorities declare they are restoring street children,” Lewis Mudge, HRW’s Central Africa director, said.

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” However instead, they are locking them up in inhuman and degrading conditions without due procedure, and exposing them to whippings and abuse.”

According to HRW, infractions occur as quickly as the kids are rounded up off the streets.

” The police beat me up and tried to force me into the truck. I hurt my wrist, I needed to wait three days before seeing a doctor … They simply bandaged my arm,” a 15- year-old young boy living on the streets in Nyagatare District, who was apprehended in September 2018, was quoted as stating by HRW.

UN evaluation

In its report, HRW prompted the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child, which is because of examine Rwanda’s compliance with the Convention on the Right of the Kid, to require the instant closure of the centre.

Rwanda ratified the convention in 1991.

The convention has been validated by 196 countries, which are required to go through routine evaluations by the UN committee that is consisted of 18 independent worldwide specialists.

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” The UN kid’s rights committee has a chance to do what couple of in Rwanda can do by asking the federal government tough concerns about its human rights record and systematic treaty violations,” Mudge stated.

” It should stand by kids dealing with abuse, who are worthy of to be treated with self-respect and regard.”

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