Rwanda National Police (RNP) has warned owners and managers of bars and other joints selling alcohol against serving alcoholic beverages to minors.
RNP spokesperson, Commissioner of Police (CP) John Bosco Kabera said that “Police will not tolerate anyone, who puts lives of children in danger by serving them alcohol.”
“It’s prohibited and punishable by law to serve alcohol to anyone aged below 18-years. Targeted operations are being conducted in bars, hotels and entertainment spots to ensure that this does not happen and those found putting the lives of minors in danger will be arrested,” CP Kabera said.
The law relating to the protection of the child, in its article 27, states that a person, who sells alcoholic beverages or tobacco to a child, causes or encourages a child to drink alcoholic beverages, to smoke or to go to bars commits an offence.
Dr Claudine Uwera Kanyamanza, the Executive Secretary, National Commission for Children (NCC)
Upon conviction, he or she is liable to imprisonment for a term of not less than three months but not exceeding six months and a fine between 100, 000 Frw and 200, 000 Frw.
Dr. Uwera Claudine Kanyamanza, the Executive Secretary of the National Commission for Children (NCC) strongly condemned people, who give access to unaccompanied minors and serve them alcoholic beverages.
“Owners of bars and entertainment premises should not turn a blind eye by allowing children under 18 years to enter their premises; there must be a shared responsibility between bar owners, bartenders and parents. Parents should be concerned about the whereabouts of their children at all times. Bar owners have a duty to ensure that anyone, who is served at the bar, is of legal drinking age,” Dr. Kanyamanza said.
She observed that drinking alcohol at a very young age can reduce a child’s mental and physical abilities since the brain is still developing at such an age.
“Underage drinking can result into serious health problems… they are more likely to be exposed to other illicit drugs, which may in the long-term cause them to commit other crimes,” Dr. Kanyamanza said.
Health experts say young people’s brains appear to be more sensitive to damage from alcohol but less sensitive to some of the side-effects of alcohol.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) highlights four broad categories of risk-taking behaviour that are consistently documented to be associated with excessive alcohol consumption in young people; high-level intoxication that results in loss of consciousness and risk of death, accidents, risky sexual behaviour, including unprotected sexual intercourse resulting in sexually transmitted infections or unplanned pregnancies, and sexual intercourse that young people later regret.
Physical harm caused by alcoholism, includes liver injury, cancer, gastrointestinal damage, immunodeficiency, cardiovascular disease, abdominal obesity and neurological harm.
According to WHO, these are rarely diagnosed in young people but manifest in later adulthood when the body becomes less able to repair and regenerate in response to repeated high-level exposure to alcohol.