Rwanda does not have a tremendous drug abuse or trafficking problem compared to other countries, although police contacts suggest that the problem has become slightly worse as the years have progressed.
The acting Commissioner General of Police, Mary Gahonzire released the latest police report on committed crime in Rwanda.
The report show cased drug abuse as the most prevalent crime in the country with 671 recorded cases when compared to other crimes that include robbery, assault, defilement and forgery.
There was another alarming report released in Mid June this year by the Minister of Youth, Protais Mitali, which indicated that the use of illicit drugs amongst children aged below 15 years had reached alarming levels.
With the police having a dedicated drug unit and other branches of the police also pursuing drug-related offences, then what is happening to the youth?
The police and the prosecution service take drug related crime very seriously. Then why does the crime persistently top the crime rate data?
Behavioural change might be the only solution to all the alarming crimes in the country because they all related to each other in one way or another.
Excess use of alcohol or drugs will most often lead to another crime.
Recently I had an interview with Dr. Anita Asiimwe, the Executive Secretary the National Aids Commission of Rwanda (CNLS). She expressed the need of behavioural change among the youth in the country.
She said that, “there is need for everyone to adopt less risky behaviours and enhance access to health services”.
She attributed the spread of HIV/AIDS also to the rise in drug abuse amongst young adults and said that there is a dangerous liaison between the two.
It’s clear that the problem is bigger than just merely combating drug abuse in the country.
In a study that was commissioned by the United Nations Office on Drugs & Crime (UNODC), through the use of focus group research, the findings indicated that drug use, sex and HIV/AIDS are variables that are related. Marijuana and alcohol are widely used among youth.
The ready availability of alcohol in the pubs and at home and marijuana through local cultivation and cheap prices provide easy accessibility to these drugs.
According to Dr. Asiimwe, as the police are trying to combat drug abuse crime, CNLS on the other hand will be emphasizing on the use of condoms.
She promised that there shall be a campaign on the use of condoms by the end of this year where by CNLS will go to all the districts sensitising on the use of condoms among the sexually active youth.
It should however not only be a government’s institutions fighting this good fight but, rather, all of us.
I suggest that nightclubs and pub owners should be among the people on the forefront in this fight.
They should be vigilant on the types of drugs their clients use at their premises and instead of selling condoms, which in the real sense is actually rare, they should start giving them out for free.
The author is a journalist, The New Times.