While emphasizing the role of the citizenry in protecting and promoting rights of children, Rwanda National Police (RNP) spokesperson, Commissioner of Police (CP) John Bosco Kabera, said that it is common to find minors taking alcoholic beverages and in night clubs in the festive period, which is prohibited and punishable by law.
“As you are celebrating, do not sell or serve alcoholic beverages to minors… respect and protect their rights. Children should also be allowed in bars when they are either in the company of their parents, relatives or responsible person but under no circumstance should a child be allowed in night clubs,” CP Kabera said.
Article 6 of law No. 71/2018 of 31/08/2018 relating to the protection of the child defines a child as any person under 18 years of age, while article 4 of the same law determines the right of the child to early adequate development. Every parent has the responsibility to care for the child to ensure appropriate development.
He further advised against “staying out with children for longer hours.”
CP Kabera appealed to the public to stand up for child protection especially in this festive period when children tend to drink alcohol, smoke and abuse drugs.
“We appeal to owners of bars to monitor these children in their premises; some of them use these places to abuse drugs and use other tricks to drink alcohol especially when in a company of people they are not related to, who attempt to manipulate and exploit them,” CP Kabera said.
“The development of any country greatly depends on its youth as a driving force, public efforts are needed to safeguard them. It is criminal to sell or serve alcohol to anyone below 18 years of age.”
Lambert Hategekimana, the officer in charge of protecting children’s rights and promoting their welfare at the National Commission for children (NCC), also urged parents and guardians to act responsibly and monitor their children in this festive period.
“This is a group that is in the age where they want to engage in varied earthly things like going to night clubs, drinking alcohol and abusing drugs out of peer influence, and this comes back to parents, guardians, owners of bars and entertainment spots and the community, in general, to protect children from these malpractices,” Hategekimana emphasized.
“The festive period is a good time for parents to sit down and discuss with their children, know their thoughts in order to improve where they failed and to start a new year with new productive plans,” he added.
“Enjoying the festive season is good, but engaging and serving alcohol to minors, spending sleepless nights in musical shows is inappropriate, irresponsible and violating their rights. Children should have enough time to rest.”
Article 27 of law that protects children states that any person who offers a child alcoholic beverages or tobacco commits an offense.
In case of recidivism, the penalty is imprisonment for a term of not less than one month but less than three months and a fine of between Rwf100, 000 and Rwf200, 000.
A person, who sells alcoholic beverages or tobacco to a child, causes or encourages a child to drink alcoholic beverages, to smoke or to go to bars commits an offence. Upon conviction, he/she is liable to imprisonment for a term of not less than three months but less than six months and a fine of between Rwf100, 000 and Rwf200, 000.
In article 32, a parent, guardian or any other person legally responsible for the child who, without reasonable cause, neglects any of his/her obligations provided by law to the extent that the health, the security and the living conditions of the child are seriously jeopardized or the child indulges in vagrancy is also liable to community services for a period one month.