2.3 m illicit arms in private hands

Jones Applerh addressing the media

Jones Applerh addressing the media

About 2.3 million unregistered arms are currently in circulation in the country, a report by the National Commission on Small Arms and Light Weapons has revealed.
This represents an increase of about 850 per cent from a baseline study that estimated that about 240,000 illicit arms existed in the country in 2004.
Speaking at a press conference in Accra yesterday to mark this year’s Global Week of Action Against Gun Violence, Jones Borteye Applerh, Executive Secretary of the commission, said a number of strategies had been adopted to reduce the proliferation of illicit arms in the country.

To keep guns out of the hands of people with history of mental illness, drug addicts, domestic abusers, terrorists and convicted felons, the commission, Mr. Applerh said would conduct mental screening and analysis of all applicants before approving gun applications.
It would also undertake background checks for all gun sales and possession to track the whereabouts and use of all arms and light weapons, he added.
Celebrated on the theme, “The road to development and peace begins with silencing the guns”, the occasion, the Executive Secretary said highlights the need for Ghana to close the loopholes and review legislation on small arms possession to complement efforts at reducing gun violence in the country.

Presently, the commission was embarking on a comprehensive review of the country’s gun laws with other stakeholders including civil society organisations to incorporate stronger background checks, address small arms trafficking and encourage safe small arms storage.
The commission, Mr Applerh, noted would also hold sensitisation programmes to create awareness about the dangers and risk associated with gun violence, especially its tendency to inhibit the nation’s development.
Deputy Minister of Interior, Henry Quartey reiterated government’s commitment to implement the Arms Trade Treaty and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and other arms control instruments including the International Tracing Instrument and the Firearms Protocol and United Nations (UN) Programme of Action to help deal with gun violence issues and proliferation of small arms and light weapons.

Expressing concern about the recent spate of mob justice and measures to curb the menace, the Deputy Minister said his outfit would ensure any acts of instant justice by a mob was thoroughly and impartially investigated and the perpetrators put before the courts in a timely manner.
He said it was part of strategies to improve Police coverage and effectiveness in responding to crime in areas where the practice was prevalent as well as strengthen community policing and police familiarity with communities.
Government, Mr Quartey stressed would equip the Police Service with the tools needed to effectively deal with the menace.
Ms Christine Evans-Klock, UN Resident Coordinator, decried increasing lawlessness orchestrated by politically-affiliated vigilantes saying that such violent actions by these militants undermine Ghana’s democracy and tarnishes the country’s image as a model of rule of law in the region.
She urged the government to work towards creating a robust and resilient economy by eradicating and dealing with the menace of small arms and light weapons, which has the potential to fuel violent conflict.

By Claude Nyarko Adams and Joyceline Natally Cudjoe 

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