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General News
Parliamentarians deliberate on a draft bill on small arms and light weapons 3/18/2007
Elmina, March 17, GNA-The Deputy Minister of the Interior, Mr Kwaku Agyemang-Manu on Saturday observed that the reality of the circulation of illicit firearms and light weapons in the hands of civilians in Ghana underscores the need for an appropriate legislative instrument to facilitate conflict prevention and also manage small fire arms. He said of the 220,000 small firearms that are in the hands of civilians in the country, only 95,000 has been registered, while 75,000 of them were illegally manufactured locally by blacksmiths and in that regard described the passing of the bill into law as 93crucial" to help stem conflicts. Mr Agyemang-Manu was opening a two-day retreat for the parliamentary select committee on Defence and Interior to review 93the national commission on small arms bill" at Elmina. The draft bill seeks the establishment of a National Commission on Small Arms and Light Weapons to, among others, provide the legal cover for the implementation of programmes of action to help prevent, combat and eradicate the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons. He stressed that this would also contribute to the maintenance of peace, stability and development because the proliferation of such firearms and light weapons served to heighten tension and insecurities, intensify and prolong conflicts and also undermine conflict resolution efforts and its circulation must be stemmed, he added. The chairman of the committee, Mr Eugene Atta Agyepong described as 93startling" the eight million illicit weapons currently circulating in the West African sub-region and said the level of smuggling of fire arms in Cote d''Ivoire alone was a mater of concern to the sub-region, especially Ghana. He, in that regard, urged the participants to make inputs into the draft bill for parliament to give it the necessary attention that it deserved. Alhaji Abubakari Sumanu, the ranking member of the committee who is also the MP for Tamale North commended the security agencies for their vigilance in tracking down illicit arms from civilians and urged them to work harder to minimize the circulation of such arms to maintain peace and order. Dr Afi Yakubu, member of the Ghana National Commission on Small Arms for her part said Ghana needed the law on small firearms and light weapons to help safeguard its borders because the needed security apparatus to secure the borders were not in place. She said a legislative instrument on small firearms and light weapons would enable Ghana to mobilize the needed resources to combat the menace and also called on the participants to ensure that the bill was implementable to serve as a pacesetter in the sub-region when it becomes law.Source:

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