7 March 2014

West Africa: Ecowas Engages Media to Reduce Proliferation of Light Weapons

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Wednesday commenced a three-day capacity building training for journalists across the country, aimed at soliciting their support in the fight against the proliferation of Small Arms And Light Weapons (SALW) in the sub-region and beyond.

The training, which is being hosted by the National Commission on Small Arms of The Gambia, seeks to enhance the knowledge of the participants on the convention on small arms and light weapons and related issues.

Speaking at the occasion, the permanent secretary, Ministry of Defence, Yusupha Dibba, said The Gambia is committed to the ECOWAS position on SALW, noting that its fight should be the business of all stakeholders including the media.

The PS challenged the media to play a critical role in this crusade, urging them to responsibly disseminate information to the general public. "So I am pleased to announce today that you are welcome in this process and that your role as responsible journalists is very crucial in dealing with SALW. I hope that this workshop would be very fruitful," he remarked.

The ECOWAS representative at the occasion, Darba Mousa, said the Small Arms Division of ECOWAS Commission considers the media as a strategic partner to involve in public sensitisation and education in its activity plans. "It is therefore imperative to train journalists in the member states on the ECOWAS Convention on Small Arms and Light Weapons so as to enhance their understanding and knowledge of it and indeed add value to their reporting on issues relating to the Convention and other related matters," he further stated.

Mousa lamented that the possession of small arms and light weapons fuels a lot of conflict in the sub-region, crises he said, are currently covered by journalists for public consumption. He also noted that the use of small arms and light weapons has also been increasing significantly in the drug trade and terrorism, a dangerous trend which he said needs greater attention.

On the role of ECOWAS, Mousa said its primary responsibility is to promote economic integration in all fields within the member states. But he hastened to state that in as much as it fosters economic cooperation, the bloc has also proven its conflict capacity to successfully prevent and resolve a lot of them. To this end, he informed that the Commission is reactivating all efforts to implement the ECOWAS Convention on Small Arms and Light Weapons.

The deputy permanent secretary, Technical, at the Ministry of Information, Communication and Infrastructure, Lamin Camara, said the role of the media is very curial in the control and proliferation of SALW. "So after understanding the whole issue, go back and disseminate information to people in the form of education. Make them understand the role they need to play in combating the proliferation of SALW," he challenged journalists.

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