Rwanda: Three Arrested for Selling Banned Bleaching Creams

22 October 2020

Rwanda National Police (RNP) on Thursday, October 22, paraded a man and two women suspected of smuggling skin bleaching lotions, selling them and trying to bribe police officers.

The suspects are Eric Mizero, Louise Sinumvayabo and Jessica Kamariza.

They were arrested from Rwezamenyo I cell, Rwezamenyo Sector, Nyarugenge District where Mizero's stock of the illegal products was located.

Besides Mizero, the other two, one was a supplier of the bleaching lotions, and the other was found retailing them in a nearby shop.

According to police, when the trio was arrested by police officers, Mizero tried to bribe them with Rwf1 million, which means he will face an additional charge of bribery.

"I apologize for this act and advise anyone who is selling these illegal lotions or is planning to do so, to stop it because it endangers the health of the public and causes losses when one is caught," said Mizero.

His stock also contained smuggled lotions, according to RNP.

Mizero said that his stock was worth four million Rwandan Francs.

Addressing the press, the Spokesman of the Rwanda National Police, CP John Bosco Kabera said that arresting the suspects was a result of partnership between the Police and citizens.

He said: "We thank citizens for sharing information that enabled us to detect this case and encourage the general public to the same whenever they notice any crime in their communities," he said.

Kabera also warned anyone planning to bribe authorities or authorities that accept bribes that the long arm of justice will not spare them.

Adverse effects of bleaching lotions

The use of skin bleaching products has increasingly become popular in recent years, especially among women who do so with the hope that it would enhance their beauty.

However, some men also use these dangerous products.

In 2018, when police and the Ministry of Health joined hands to mount a joint operation against the sale and distribution of banned skin-lightening creams, there were 1,342 cream and oil brands with hydroquinone and mercury prohibited in Rwanda.

Medics suggest that the two toxic chemicals; hydroquinone and mercury react with ultraviolet rays and lead to more pigmentation and premature aging.

The more these products are used the less melanin the body produces, and this leads to an increased risk for skin cancer.

According to World Health Organisation (WHO), mercury in skin lightening soaps and creams cause skin rashes, skin discoloration and scarring, as well as a reduction in the skin's resistance to bacterial and fungal infections.

Studies show that the skin bleaching products industry is a multi-billion dollar sector, highly unregulated, and has negative effects on more than 30 percent of long-term users, ranging from burns to skin cancer.

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