Windhoek — Namibia is currently working towards ratification of the SADC Protocol on Arms Trade Treaty, Major General Annamarie Nainda said yesterday at the opening of the Southern African Regional Police Chief Council Organisation (SARPCCO)'s regional coordinating committee meeting on small arms and light weapons in Windhoek.
Article 10 of the SADC Treaty obliges a State Party to take measures, pursuant to its national laws, to regulate brokering taking place under its jurisdiction for conventional arms under Article 2 (1) and Article 11, which encourages the exchange of information on illegal brokers.
Nainda, who spoke on behalf of Namibian police chief Lieutenant-General Sebastian Ndeitunga, said Namibia like all member countries in the region is signatory to the relevant key sub-regional and international instruments and mechanisms on Small Arms and Light Weapons.
"In the SADC region and beyond, resource-based conflict replaced political conflicts, which have impacted seriously on human security and development. The majority of illicit small arms and light weapons in the region are old stock from past conflicts that are recycled from one conflict area to another," said Nainda.
But, notwithstanding the circulation of old stock, new stock of illicit arms are also entering the region through loopholes in legislation, ineffective sub-regional law enforcement architecture, lack of comprehensive strategy on simultaneous and joint operations among others, Ndeitunga said.
However, Nainda said, SADC is regarded amongst the best with a legally binding and well-received SADC Protocol on the Control of Firearms, Ammunition and Related Materials. "Member States adopted and signed the SADC Protocol, which entered into force on November 8, 2004 and to this end, the signing and ratification of the Protocol is at 100 percent", she said.
In order to adequately address the illicit trafficking in arms, a concerted effort that is tailor-made to respond to any crime related to firearms is needed, Nainda said.
The head of the SARPCCO, Fernando Joao Cumbe, said the issue of illicit trafficking, smuggling and proliferation of small arms and light weapons is really an undisputed major international issue across Africa and affects the region because it is the key driver of violent deaths.
"A firearm does not protect, it cannot stop a bullet from hitting you. Anyone armed with a firearm is a potential killer, regardless of whether it is a police officer, military, civilian or a thief," Cumbe stressed.
Cumbe added that the proliferation of firearms is rapidly growing through established transnational organised crime syndicates, that participate in the commission of gruesome crimes such as murder, poaching and armed robberies.
Deputy Commissioner Nghiwanwa Shaama, the head of the National Focal Point and National Focal Point Coordinator of the Regional Coordinating Committee said the illicit trade and brokering in firearms has a negative influence on national, regional and international stability and security detrimentally impacting conflict prevention and resolution, crime prevention and also impedes the provision of public goods and services and by implication inhibits socio-economic development within the territories of the member states.
Ndeitunga said, given the complexity of the sources of illicit arms in the region and beyond, a regional strategic plan on curbing the proliferation of small arms and light weapons, as well as robust and comprehensive legislation in the member states are indispensable in curbing the illicit trade and spread of small arms and light weapons in the region.