Rwanda criminalise the use of children for begging in a bid to retain its 'cleanest city in Africa' badge of honor

A prison sentence of three years awaits those found guilty

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In a statement issued by Rwanda National Police on Monday, the authority has warned that it will imprison parents, guardians and anyone who force children to beg in the streets.

“At different hotspots in Kigali and other upcountry towns, it has become a habit to find street beggars – mostly children and women, either grabbing passengers in bus parks or storming meeting places to beg for money or food,” says the report.

A prison sentence of three years will be handed out to offenders if found guilty.

The announcement  coincided with the official state visit by Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi to Rwanda.

El-sisi was received at the Kigali International Airport by the Rwandan President Paul Kagame on Tuesday morning and it is not clear if the announcement is serious or was only meant to ‘clear’ the streets of beggars for the  one day state visit by President el-Sisi.

In 2016, United Nations declared Kigali as the most beautiful city in Africa and the third greenest city in the world for its environment friendly policies such as total ban of non-biodegradable products and monthly  clean up exercise where everyone preserves the last Saturday of the month for projects aimed at improving the country’s public space'.

Article 691 of the Organic law instituting the penal code states that any person who uses, encourages, takes or incites a child to beg, shall be liable to a term of imprisonment of one year to two years.

If the child used in begging has a physical or mental disability, the term of imprisonment shall be three (3) years.

According to the police the children sent out to beg not only suffer early cognitive issues, but also face serious attacks.

In recent months there has been an influx of street children across Kigali’ main spots such as Nyabugogo  bus park.

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