21 July 2017

Sierra Leone: Small Arms Commission Updates President Koroma

Chairman of the Advisory Committee of the Sierra Leone National Commission on Small Arms (SLNCSA) Major General (Rtd) Mohamed Sheku Tarawallie on Thursday 20 July 2017 updated President Dr Ernest Bai Koroma at State House on the successes and achievements of the Commission since its inception in June 2010.

In cataloguing the achievements, Major Gen. Tarawallie mentioned among other things, the nation-wide sensitization campaign undertaken by the Commission, a five-year National Action Plan to guide the Commission's operations from 2011 to 2015 within which period the Commission facilitated the enactment of the Arms and Ammunition Bill into Law by Parliament in 2012. In September 2011, he said, the Commission publicly destroyed 4,773 weapons by the Arms for Development (AfD) Project in Makeni with support from Mines Advisory Group, a UK-based Charity. He further disclosed that the Commission in 2013 established a Firearms Licensing Bureau and Arms Registry at the premises of the Commission. In order to facilitate easy tracing of weapons in the event of criminal activities, the Commission in 2014 launched the marking and computerizing of all weapons in Sierra Leone including weapons owned by the security forces - the army and the police totalling to over 21,000 weapons.

Also catalogued in the achievements was the Commission's effort to spearhead the passing into law of the Arms and Ammunition Regulations in 2014, and in 2015 the Commission, he said, facilitated the centralization of the remaining weapons collected by the (AfD) Project and all unserviceable weapons owned by the Army and Police for destruction. A total of 4,767 weapons were destroyed in March and April 2016, he noted. He also reported on the Commission's collaborative effort with UNDP to implement activities under the ECOWAS - European Union Small Arms Project in Kenema, Kono and Koinadugu districts and also on the commencement of issuance of Firearms Licenses to eligible citizens for sports and hunting purposes in January 2016.

However, Major Gen. (Rtd.) Tarawallie highlighted the challenges faced by the Commission including apparent lack of roadworthy vehicles, inadequate office space, late and inadequate disbursement of funds for the operations of the Commission.

In his remarks, President Koroma commended the efforts of the Chairman and team for their compliance with the 2006 ECOWAS Convention on Small Arms and Light Weapons. He further commended the nationwide sensitization exercise undertaken by the Commission taking into consideration the increase in the state of global insecurity threats. He noted the concerns raised by the Chairman and assured immediate engagement with the appropriate authorities to get them solved as the country gears up for the next general elections.

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