8 November 2018

Ghana: Police Destroy 2,700 Illicit Firearms

More than 2,700 illicit small arms were yesterday destroyed at the Police Depot in Accra by the National Commission on Small Arms and Light Weapons.

The arms were seized in the Ashanti Region from criminals and civilians who had no authority to possess the arms or had violated the terms of their licences.

The exercise was the sixth of the weapons destruction programme being undertaken since 2005 by the Commission in collaboration with the security agencies which had till date resulted in the destruction of 10,052 illicit small arms.

Minister of the Interior, Ambrose Dery, in a statement read on his behalf by his deputy, Henry Quartey, said weapons collection and destruction was one of the strategies for small arms control and management in the country.

The proliferation of illicit small arms, especially in West Africa, he said was responsible for political instability and disturbance of democracies which have impacted negatively on socio-economic development and would continue if nothing was done to curb the situation.

"We have come to realise the peace and political stability, which forms the bedrock of national development, cannot be taken for granted. This can be seriously undermined by the proliferation of small arms which are instruments of violence, particularly if it is in wrong and unauthorised hands," he said.

Mr Dery said government was concerned about the increasing number of arms owned by civilians in the name of self-protection and urged all who have registered small arms to renew their licences to avoid falling foul of the law.

With most of the confiscated firearms being artisanal or locally-made, he cautioned that when caught, those involved would be arrested and prosecuted and called on the populace to volunteer information to the security agencies to guard against the spread of illicit arms.

In the meantime, the minister stated that government was considering on legalising local manufacture of arms and assured that the necessary steps would be taken to adopt the best policy on the manufacture of arms in the country.

Citing a report by the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre (KAIPTC), the Board Chairman of the Commission, Professor Paul Frimpong Manso, said about 40,000 firearms licences on the average get renewed yearly out of 1,236,128 licences of firearms on Police database.

He explained that the threat of illicit proliferation of small arms and light weapons to communities requires proactive measures to prevent easy circulation and accessibility which fuel armed violence, conflict and human rights violations.

He said the destruction of the firearms was in line with the United Nations (UN) Firearms Protocol which required state parties to destroy obsolete and illicit arms seized or confiscated.

Prof Frimpong Manso urged the general public to acquire small arms only when they needed them to avoid situations where armed robbers attacked houses with a locally made pistol and end up taking the industrialised weapons away.

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