Members of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) have schooled customs officials in the country on best control mechanisms of the importation of chemical objects which could be diverted to constitute weapons that would mar the country's stability and by extension its socio-economic development.
The visiting OPCW officials who are in the country to meet with the various stakeholders to sensitise them and to solicit their support for the efficient control of these objects and the respect of international convention yesterday November 7 held a capacity-building workshop to give best practices for efficient controls at the borders. According to the leader of the delegation, Amoh Bernard, Coordination/Planning Officer at OPCW, the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on their Destruction, an international convention to which Cameroon is signatory, stipulates that each State monitors the imports and exports of chemicals that are on the schedule of chemicals in the Chemical Weapons Convention.
This is so that other chemicals should not be diverted for use as weapons. "With the convention, if a country exports chemical products to Cameroon, it would report to the organisation that we exported this amount and kind of chemicals and Cameroon would also report back to OPWC so that we can see that the chemicals haven't been diverted. But when it comes to imports and exports, customs officials are the ones who are charged with the responsibility in each country. So, we want to be sure that customs officials here have the capacity to identify these chemicals," he said.
Cameroon, he added, joined the convention in 1996 and has been putting together its drafts (National Implementation Legislation) which will provide the legal framework for the implementation of the convention. "I believe a lot of work has been going on and that the draft is already in the Prime Minister's Office and he and other stakeholders are finalising it. At the end of this workshop, we hope to be able to provide customs officials with the capacity to be able to recognise what they need to do in case some of these chemicals do come into the country because these are chemicals that we use in everyday life," Amoh added.
Participants among others, sharpened skills on the provisions of the international convention, chemical products concerned, how they can be identified, current challenges of declaring imports and exports of the products as well as practical questions linked to their imports and exports.
The visiting delegation, all things being equal, will this Thursday hold talks with the Minister of Mines, Industries and Technological Development as well as a workshop with industrial and commercial actors of the chemical sector.