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Police, partners move to address the trend of illicit drugs in Kigali

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Kigali: A campaign to reverse the trend of narcotic drugs in the City of Kigali was launched yesterday in Nyarugenge District as Rwanda National Police (RNP), government ministries and parastatal, faith-based organizations, among others came together to sensitize especially the young people on dangers of abusing drugs.

Nyarugenge is marked as one of the destinations of trafficked drugs. Officials and thousands of youth engaged in a walk against drugs through the nicknamed areas of Califonia and Tarinyonta both in Nyarugenge Sector, and Matimba in Rwezamenyo Sector, which are said to be the hub for drug dealers.

They also visited the Ubworoherane Village in Nyakabanda Sector, formerly the hub for drug dealers and sex workers, but today nicknamed a smart village. Residents contributed money to buy CCTV cameras and with the support of the district they started ‘Irondo Shop’ where their community night patrols buy goods at a subsidized price.

The walk headed to Club Rafiki in Rwezamenyo where testimonies from rehabilitated addicts and drama on dangers of drugs by community health workers in the area gave a live picture on the consequences of abusing drugs.

“I started abusing drugs in 2003 and for 13 years I was under the bondage of drugs. Drugs turned me into a thief, I started assaulting people and I know many of you here are victims of my bad past,” said Jean Paul Bikorimana, one of the reformed dealer and addict.

“I am standing before you to tell you that today I am a different person…a good person; I am here to say sorry for those that I wronged and to ask for forgiveness,” said the soft speaking Bikorimana.

Indeed, Bikorimana’s life is now headed for better after graduating at Rehabilitation and Vocational Skills Development Centre (IRVSDC) with vocational skills in carpentry, brought together his colleagues to start Tuzamurane cooperative that also deals in carpentry.

Today, Tuzamurane has 32 members, 18 of them graduated of Iwawa and other abusers they took off the streets and gave them basic skills.

“We were seven people when we started, we had only one hammer and nothing else, others were using stones as hammer. Today, we are making money; some of us have our own families with children. We want to bring more graduates from rehabilitation centres but we need support because our workstation is small and we lack more equipment,” said Bikorimana.

The Minister of Youth, Rosemary Mbabazi, who presided over the event, said that the government embarked on prevention rather than dealing with the consequences of drugs.

“Illicit drugs are like cancer; your life deteriorates, kills your brain, blinds you and diverts you from the noble cause. It is an individual and collective responsibility to make our villages free from crime and drugs in particular by reporting dealers,” Minister Mbabazi said.

She added: “We cannot allow drug dealers and neither should you as a parent, teacher, religious leader and the young people. Don’t allow drug dealers to operate in your communities; they are giving your children poison…they are the enemy to education, health, economy, security and the overall development.”

Between 2010 and 2015, the Neuro-psychiatric Hospital of Ndera received 1432 patients with mental illness caused by use of drugs, according to statistics from Rwanda Biomedical Centre (RBC).

The number increased to 2804 in 2016 but recorded a slight decrease to 1960 last year. Huye Isange Rehabilitation Centre received 209 cases, last year.

Minister Mbabazi said that the ongoing reforms of the law against narcotic drugs as well as campaigns are meant to address the problem from the roots.

The proposed law provides increasing the penalty for trafficking or dealing in narcotic drugs from the current five-year maximum sentence to between 20 years and life sentence.

Inspector General of Police (IGP) Emmanuel K. Gasana said that drugs are the major cause of other crimes citing assault, defilement, theft, domestic and gender-based violence, and child abuse.

“The approach is multifaceted; close monitoring and proper upbringing of children by parents, sensitization and education, rehabilitation of addicts, arrests and prosecution of dealers. Last year, we arrested over 4000 drug dealers and since the beginning of this year we have arrested over 1000 dealers; it’s a continuous multifaceted approach” IGP Gasana said.

The campaign is part of the ongoing Police Week that focuses on driving the philosophy of community centred policing down to the grassroots to create crime-free villages.

The first week of the 18th anniversary activities focuses on raising awareness against drugs with particular emphasis on targeting the market to prevent more users, rehabilitate the addicted and strengthen partnership to break supply chains. (End)


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