9 May 2016

Liberia Security Face Daunting Challenges - Small Arm Commission Says After UNMIL Departure

The Liberia Commission on Small Arms (LICOMSA) says the country’s security stands to face daunting challenges after the departure of the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) from the country. An official of the commission who address a workshop of the a civil umbrella network, the Liberia Action Network on Small Arms (LANSA) at the YMCA last Friday told the group that the security situation will be vulnerable unless steps were taken to curb the proliferation and movement of arms in the country and across the borders.

The civil society consultative workshop was convened Friday by LANSA to discuss the UN arm treaty and the Liberia Fire Arm Act.
The LICOMSA official who deputized for the commission’s Chairman, Cllr. James Fromoyan, believes that some people would want to test the strength of the Liberian security after the departure of UNMIL if steps are not taken to avert same.

According to the LICOMSA official, the capacity of the security is still being built to take over security mandate from UNMIL, adding that UNMIL presidential escort team has already relinquished security duties to their Liberian counterparts and departed the country. He was quick to add that just as to everyone thousand Liberians is one medical doctor, same is with the security sector, and the control of firearms in the country becomes a paramount imperative that should not be underestimated if Liberian security must remain stable after the departure of UNMIL.

The commission also related the situation of armed embargo which the spokesman noted is still on Liberia, saying that the country will be freed from the UN armed embargo if the country meets the benchmark of passing the Firearm Act at the Legislature and fully staff the Commission on Small Arms with the remaining female commissioner.  The commission therefore implores the CSOs to nominate a female to take seat on the commission to complete the bench of commissioners of LICOMSA.

Commenting on the Firearm Act, the LICOMSA official indicated that amongst provisions is the requirement that only hunters are to carry registered single-barrel guns because hunting is their livelihood, and that only Liberian brokers are authorized to deal in arm trade in the country.  LICOMSA, he hinted is working with the security forces to arm firearms in the armories of security forces in the state with the intent of not allowing any weapon being misused by personnel, saying that any gun that is not registered will be arrested by LICOMSA but saying that the challenge remains what will happen to the arrested arms.

Also addressing the workshop was Mr. Roy Isbister from the Arms Unit of the SafeWorld, who also spoke of the need for a safe and arms free society.
Earlier, the Chairman of LANSA, Mr. Michael welcomed the participants at the workshop and noted that their presence was important especially at this crucial moment of the country, while LANSA’s Secretary Christian T. L. Peah gave the overview of the workshop.

The workshop brought together representatives of sixty civil society organizations in the country.

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