A Five Year National Action Plan on Small Arms was today presented at a State House ceremony attended by President Ernest Bai Koroma, Vice President Sam Sumana, Ministers and Development Partners. The Plan covering the period 2011-2015 is the Working Document of the Small Arms Commission which provides a framework detailing interventions, strategies and activities to be undertaken in regulating the manufacture, sale and use of Small Arms and Light weapons (SALW) in Sierra Leone. According, to Small Arms Commissioner Leslie Lymon the activities in the National Action Plan (NAP) are based on the country’s post-conflict context and influenced by the provisions and objectives of the United Nations Programme of Action on Control of Small Arms and the ECOWAS convention on small arms and Light Weapons, their Ammunitions and other Related Materials.
Brigadier (Rtd) Lymon intimated that a National Small Arms Survey exercise was conducted in 2010 to evaluate among other things, the perception of the role and Operational significance of SALW after the war, the Socio economic impact of Small arms on National Recovery and Development, the existing legal and Institutional Regulatory Framework for SALW Control and the Stockpile Management and Security in Sierra Leone. He reported the findings indicating that the proliferation of illicit small arms in Sierra Leone accounts for 90% of economic uncertainty, 84% death and injuries and 78% poor prospects for children. The survey also portrays that public opinion about the linkage between illicit small arms and poverty was evident and warranted government intervention. The Commissioner also noted that over 90% of all respondents were convinced that illicit small arms and created insecurity and prevented people from pursing income generating activities because of fear.
These findings, the retired Brigadier said were exhaustively discussed at a National Stakeholders conference held to make recommendations and proffer practical solutions for inclusion in the National Action Plan. “Therefore” he said “NAP is reflective of not only findings in the report but also opinions, suggestions and recommendations of Security Experts and Civil Society Organizations” He disclosed that all ammunitions collected will be destroyed at a symbolic burning ceremony in Makeni to not only portray to the world our post- conflict stability and reconstruction efforts but also the firm commitment of government’s stance to curb the proliferation of small Arms and Light Weapons. The Commissioner however noted that they have been unable to proceed with the establishment of the Firearms Licensing Bureau, due to delay in the enactment of the new Firearms Law which will provide eligibility criteria for civilian possession of Firearms in Sierra Leone.
He commended the UNDP and ECOWAS Small Arms Control Programme for financial and other related support to the Commission. Supporting the launching of the National Action Plan, President Koroma Government has the responsibility of consolidating the peace, but a key concern has always been the proliferation of small arms, which resulted in the establishment the Small Arms Office at State House, its transformation to a Commission on Small Arms, leadingd to the National Action Plan. According to President Koroma there are still challenges, thus the need for urgent action and fast- tracking of the Fire Arms Bill for enactment. He paid tribute to the -Development Partners – European Union, UNDP andmerican Ambassador Michael. S. Owen for supporting the Commission and re-assured the Commission of government’s continued support.
…Submitted by State House Press Team….
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