National Public Prosecution Authority (NPPA) is considering putting more emphasis on pursuing drug dealers and traffickers other than focusing on consumers who rarely have a clue on how they reach them.
Jean Bosco Mutangana made the remarks on Tuesday during the national symposium on drug abuse that brought together the Ministry of Health and other stakeholders to collectively look at what can be done to curtail the illicit use of drugs.
Mutangana noted that drug abuse is on increase and much of the blame should be on traffickers and suppliers.
According figures from prosecution, cases of drug abuse have been on increase.
For instance in 2015, 3,809 cases related to drugs that were adjudicated by different courts in the country, which rose to 4,053 the following year, while last year, they had gone up to 5,584.
This fiscal year, over 4,000 cases had been pronounced by courts until May.
The average conviction rate for these drug-related cases is over 95 percent, according to Mutangana.
“The penal code under review seeks to ensure that peddlers get harsh punishment than consumers because consumers are those young people who no longer know those networks, the target is more on the sources than end users,” he said without mentioning what the punishment would be.
He urged all stakeholders to join hands in the fight against drug abuse adding that the crime is so sophisticated.
“This is a highly organised and covered crime and those involved also have mechanism to avoid detection,” he said
He said that the prosecution wins cases of drugs to over 90 percent because there are evidences that pin the culprits as they are either caught red handed or they are tested.
Under the current penal code, any person who unlawfully, makes, transforms, imports, or sells narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances within the country, is liable to a term of imprisonment of three years to five years and a fine of Rwf500,000 to Rwf5,000,000.
“Drug trafficking is in most cases a transnational crime and those involved are well organised, that is why they are hard to detect, we have porous borders and we have identified over 80 illegal entry points, just from Kagitumba border in Eastern Province to Northern Province.
He said that currently, those involved in drug trafficking who ferry bigger quantity of drugs.
“Drug abuse is a catalyst for crimes committed in our country, like theft, murder, rape, defilement, and assault among others. The concrete answer against drug abuse is a multi-sectorial approach, not just prosecuting those arrested.
“It is every Rwandans role to report drug sellers and suppliers; it is booming business and the peddlers do not care about consequences these drugs have on our youth or the level of criminality in our communities,” Mutangana said.
Drugs are increasingly threatening the welfare of the youth in the country.
According to Rwanda Biomedical Centre, between 2010 and 2015, the neuro-psychiatric Hospital of Ndera in Gasabo District received 1,432 patients with mental illness caused by use of drugs.
The number increased to 2804 in 2016 but recorded a slight decrease to 1960 last year.
Information from National Rehabilitation Services indicates that so far, over 15,000 of the youth have rehabilitated from Iwawa Rehabilitation Centre 90 percent of them being drug addicts.