The products taken from shelves in different shops include lotions, non-biodegrable plastic bags, food and tea flavours. About 20 people, who were selling the outlawed goods were also during the operations conducted on Tuesday, September 21.
Athanase Nyandwi, one of those arrested for selling illicit products he was buying them from street vendors.
Equally, Angelique Ayinkamiye also admitted that she started selling skin whitening products more than a year ago and that she was buying them from vendors.
RNP Spokesperson Commissioner of Police (CP) John Bosco Kabera said that the arrest of the 20 dealers and seizure of the illegal products is part of the strengthened Police operations across the country targeting smugglers and traffickers as well as shops selling these products.
“The Ministry of Health listed cream and oil brands which are prohibited Rwanda, and this has been communicated time and again. The same applies to plastic bags which were outlawed due to their ill-effects on the environment. We warn people against dealing in any goods they obtain illegally or banned,” said CP Kabera.
There are 1,342 listed cream and oil brands with hydroquinone and mercury, which are prohibited in Rwanda.
Smuggling, CP Kabera added, is detrimental to the national economy as it brings substandard and illicit products on the Rwandan market but also put dealers into losses when they are arrested, goods seized, fined or imprisoned.
He called upon the public to follow the law, refrain from smuggling and trafficking or selling of outlawed products.
All the suspects were handed over to RIB for further investigation.
What the law says
Article 266 of the law determining offenses and penalties in general, states that any person, who produces, sells, or prescribes harmful products; cosmetics or body hygiene substance or any other products derived from plants, commits an offence.
Upon conviction, he/she is liable to imprisonment for a term of not less than one year and not more than two years and a fine of not less than Frw3 million and not more than Frw5 million or one of these penalties.
Manufacturing, use, importation or sale of plastic carry bags and single-use plastic items are prohibited under article 3 of law N° 17/2019 of 10/08/2019 relating to the prohibition of manufacturing, importation, use, and sale of plastic carry bags and single-use plastic items in Rwanda.
In article 10, any person, who imports plastic carry bags and single-use plastic items is liable to the dispossession of those plastic carry bags and such items, and to an administrative fine equivalent to ten times the value of those plastic carry bags and single-use plastic items.
In article 11, a wholesaler of plastic carry bags and single use plastic items is liable to an administrative fine of Rwf700, 000 and dispossession of those plastic carry bags and such items.
In article 12, a retailer of plastic carry bags and single-use plastic items is liable to an administrative fine of Frw300, 000 and dispossession of those plastic carry bags.
Under article 199 of the East African Community Management Act, which is also applicable in Rwanda, seized smuggled goods and automobile used in smuggling, are auctioned. The driver also faces a fine of US$5000.
A taxpayer, who commits fraud, is subject to an administrative fine of one hundred percent (100%) of the evaded tax.
With exception to that penalty, the Tax Administration refers the case to the Prosecution service if the taxpayer voluntarily evaded such tax, like through the use of false accounts, falsified documents or any other act punishable by law.
In case of conviction, the taxpayer can be imprisoned for a period between six months and two years.
Article 87 of law N° 026/2019 of 18/09/2019 on tax procedures states that a person who, while intending tax evasion, commits one of the following acts: use of forged documents in his or her accounts; counterfeit and use of documents or materials of the tax administration used for taxation; hiding taxable goods or assets related to business; making a declaration indicating that the taxpayer has not made sales; changing the trade name by a person prosecuted in relation to tax; fraudulent registration of trade under the name of another person; hiding accounting documents from the tax administration or damaging them; use of forged accounting records; commits an offence of tax evasion.
Upon conviction, he or she is liable to imprisonment for a term of not less than two (2) years and not more than five (5) years.