23 November 2012

Rwanda: Law Enforcers Meet Over Illicit Arms

The coordinator of small arms and light weapons in Rwanda National Police, ACP Sam Karemera, has called on the general public to play a role in ridding the country of illegal arms.

Speaking to The New Times on the sidelines of a workshop on small arms in Kigali, Karemera said community policing committees have been enlisted to sensitize the population on the dangers of small arms.

He encouraged the general public to report to authorities anyone they suspect of having or carrying an illicit small arm and light weapon.

The workshop brought together officials from the Ministry of Internal Security, Rwanda National Police, Rwanda Correctional Services and the civil society.

According to the existing laws, any citizen who wants to own a small arm must apply for it and is issued a license.

"We don't encourage citizens to possess arms, but the one who has tangible reasons to possess them can apply to have them legally," Karemera said.

The government has previously set deadlines for voluntary handover of illegal small arms, but despite compliance by some people, arms have remained in the hands of some individuals.

Rwanda has adequately tackled internal proliferation of Small Arms and Light Weapons that was rampant in the country, especially in the aftermath of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.

According to experts, the situation is now under control but the biggest problem remains proliferation of arms in the neighboring country of Congo.

Before the Genocide, the then government had supplied small arms and light weapons to militia groups and these were used in killing the over a million people.

In an effort to curb small arms in the region, countries are expected to label all light and small weapons in their possession.

According to the Police website, till October 2011, Rwanda had destroyed over 32,000 small arms and light weapons.

ACP Karemera also said that since 2010 more than 1,700 grenades have been destroyed.

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