Police this month rounded up 20 children found in bars and nightclubs in a countrywide operation aimed at protecting underage persons from sexual exploitation and drug abuse.
Some 26 people have been arrested in connection with the crime as arrangements are being finalised to arraign them in court.
The operation code-named Imara (Swahili for resolute) which also targeted drug traffickers and abusers, saw Police seize about 14,000 litres of banned locally brewed liquor, 592 litres of kanyanga and 144 kilogrammes of cannabis, a narcotic drug.
The Deputy Director of CID at the Rwanda National Police, Tony Kuramba, told journalists on Tuesday that some of the underage boys picked from nightclubs were found drinking alcohol while girls took soft drinks that police suspected could have been adulterated with intoxicating substances.
“When criminals take underage girls to night clubs, they can [intoxicate them] with anything so as to achieve their criminal intentions,” he said.
Police suspects sexual abuse.
Kuramba said that this will be a continuous operation to maintain law and order in the country and will cover all regulated public activities including traffic.
He said RNP will maintain focus on protecting children against any forms of abuse or exploitation.
The biggest challenge, he said, is eliminating drug trafficking and abuse because of the porous borders.
“The challenge is that most of these drugs come in from neighbouring countries. For example cannabis is mainly from DR Congo and Tanzania, while Kanyanga is smuggled in through the north from Uganda,” he said.
While consumption of Kanyanga is banned in Rwanda, brewing and distilling of the gin is permitted in neighbouring Uganda where it is known as Waragi.
He said police has, however, stepped up surveillance and had deployed sniffer dogs at suspected entry points to arrest traffickers and impound the illicit goods.
Kuramba called upon parents to act as the first line of defence for their children by monitoring their movements and groups they go out with. Rwandan law prohibits persons under the age of 18 from consuming alcohol and going to nightclubs.