“As Long as We Live on the Streets, They Will Beat Us”: Rwanda’s abusive detention of children

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Human Rights Watch

International law states that children only should be deprived of liberty as a measure of last resort, and the UNCRC places an obligation on governments to protect children from all forms of physical or psychological violence. If children do commit crimes, states are required to develop non-custodial solutions including care, guidance and supervision as well as counseling and educational programs. Despite this, Gikondo Transit Center in Kigali, Rwanda, has served as an unofficial detention facility where street children, vendors, sex workers, homeless people, and beggars are locked away. People kept in Gikondo are beaten and ill-treated, but the Rwandan government has turned a blind eye.  

This report is based on interviews with children formerly detained at the Gikondo Transit Center for periods up to six months. It is found that the center serves as a de facto detention facility, and that children held in custody underfed, regularly beaten and kept in overcrowded and unhygienic rooms, without judicial oversight. Human Rights Watch calls on the Rwandan Government to immediately close the center and release all child detainees. 

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