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Rwanda National Police

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RUBAVU: Police seize over 800 pieces of outlawed skin bleaching products

Two people were arrested on Sunday, January 15, in Rubavu District in Police operations against smuggling and selling of banned skin whitening creams and oils.

At least 813 pieces of assorted banned cosmetics commonly known as mukorogo, were impounded.

Diane Uwamahoro, 39, and Clemence Mporwiki, 44, were arrested by the Anti-Smuggling and Organized Crime department with 453 assorted pieces of skin bleaching cosmetics and 31 pieces of kitenge (traditional fabric), respectively. 

Other 360 pieces of skin bleaching products were seized from Gisenyi market after owners fled, according to Chief Inspector of Police (CIP) Mucyo Rukundo, the Western Region Political and Civic Education Officer (RPCEO).

"These were targeted operations based on credible information provided by the public. Those arrested and others still at large, were sneaking the illegal cosmetics and clothes into Rwanda from DR Congo, through porous border points," CIP Rukundo said.

"The ASOC had information that Uwamahoro was selling mukorogo Mporwiki selling clothes, especially kitenge, and are working with other people to smuggle them into Rwanda," he added.

The two suspects were handed over to RIB at Gisenyi station for further investigations.

CIP Rukundo warned traders against smuggling and dealing in illegal and harmful products like skin whitening cosmetics.

He further warned of continued operations against such unlawful businesses.

There are 1,342 listed cream and oil brands with hydroquinone and mercury, which are prohibited in Rwanda.

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.

Article 87 of the law on tax procedures provides an imprisonment of between 2 and 5 years, for tax evasion.