As many as 2,012 people were arrested between January and October, last year, for either trading or consuming illicit drugs, a report by the Anti-Narcotics Unit of the Rwanda National Police indicates.
Figures show that 83.7 percent of those arrested were aged between 18 and 35, while 5.5 percent are below 18 years.
About 90.5 percent of those arrested were male.
Police Spokesperson, Supt Theos Badege, said the police force has been at the forefront “to ensure that this country’s greatest resource (the youth) are protected from drugs and alcohol, and to turn them into responsible citizens, who will help develop their country.”
“The arrests were possible because of the partnership with the public through community policing…members of the public provided information about the dealers,” he said.
“But this does not mean that the crime is on the increase; it’s just that we stepped up our efforts to track down those who have been dealing in this illegal business,” explained Badege.
The police have been conducting several campaigns against drugs, especially among the youth, in a bid to combat the threat, which has been topping the crime list for the past three years.
Badege observed that drugs and alcohol among the youth remain a major challenge, adding that there is need to forge even stronger partnership with all stakeholders to effectively fight the vices.
Recently, the police, in conjunction with and Imbuto Foundation and the Ministry of Youth, organised a stakeholders’ conference against drugs and alcohol, among the youth. “The youth are the future leaders of the nation and should be protected from all sorts of things that may jeopardize their future,” added Badege.
The campaign against drugs and alcohol among the youth was recently decentralised to the grassroots level, through community policing channels.
At the bottom of the pyramid, the campaign is headed by District Community Liaison Officers (DCLOs), working closely with other actors such as bar owners, grassroots leaders, the clergy and parents.
By October, last year, more than 2,000 kilogrammes of cannabis and over 7,000 litres of illicit brew had been impounded and destroyed.
Marijuana is said to be smuggled into the country from particularly Democratic Republic of the Congo and Tanzania, while illicit brew, commonly known as Kanyanga, is largely smuggled from Uganda.