African experts meet in Accra …to review Ghana’s firearms legislation

Experts in firearms regulation and security from African countries are meeting in Accra, to help Ghana review its legislation on firearms, and incorporate international instruments into them.

Drawn from the African Union (AU) and Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the experts are also assisting the National Commission on Small Arms and Light Weapons Commission (NCSALC), to make a strong case for the government to establish an institution to regulate all arms in the country.

The three-day meeting, which opened yesterday with participants from the Bonn International Centre for Conflict Studies (BICC), German Cooperation and Regulatory Authorities like the Narcotic Control Commission, is part of a series of meetings that started last year.

The NCSALC Executive Secretary, Jones Applerh, in an interview with the Ghanaian Times, on the sidelines of the event, said the meeting was imperative since Ghana passed its last law on control of small arms in 1972 it had signed a number of instruments that requires domestication.

Some of them, he said, were the Arms Treaty; International Arms Protocol, United Nations Programme of Action on Small Arms and the ECOWAS Convention on Small Arms.

“We are already implementing some of them in bits and pieces. Now we are collecting ideas from experts to help NCSALC fashion out an argument that will be acceptable to the government to domesticate the international instruments because they come with great benefits and can enhance security,” Applerh said.

The end game, he said, was to develop a cabinet paper to establish a National Arms Authority that would regulate the arms space and enhance ongoing efforts to curb the proliferation of arms, such as marking and tracking firearms as well as public education.

The Programmes Coordinator at the Small Arms Unit of ECOWAS, Dr Sani Adamu, commended Ghana for taking the proactive step on the proliferation of firearms to safeguard the peace in the country.

Describing Ghana as an island of peace in the West African region, he said “It [the domestication of international treaties] is a strong national effort to contribute to peace and security.”

Dr Adamu said ECOWAS would monitor the progress of the exercise and expressed the hope that other countries would follow the path taken by Ghana to enhance security in the West African sub-region.

The Political/Protocol Attaché at the German Embassy, Moritz Ficher, said Germany supported the process because effective arms control was a precursor to peace and security while the exercise was in line with Germany’s programmes on effective arms control.

The Security Sector Reform Expert at the AU Commission, Joycelyne Nahimana, applauded Ghana for the move, and declared AU’s support for the domestication of regional instruments.

END

PIX BY AYEH

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