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03.11.2009 Politics

Ghana to ratify ECOWAS Convention on small arms- President Mills

By gna
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Accra, Nov. 3, GNA - President John Evans Atta Mills on Tuesday said government would soon put before Parliament the ECOWAS Convention on Small Arms for ratification.

To this end, government has scheduled the Convention as one of the key issues on the agenda for discussion at the next Cabinet meeting.

President Mills gave the assurance in a speech read for him by Mr Cletus Avorka, Minister of the Interior, at the inauguration of the Ghana Chapter of the West Africa Action Network on Small Arms (WAANSA) in Accra.

It is a network of civil society organisations and coalitions fighting against proliferation of Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW) across ECOWAS member states.

The Convention seeks to prevent and combat the excessive and destabilising accumulation of small arms and light weapons within ECOWAS; strengthen efforts for the control of SALW; and consolidate gains of the declaration of the moratorium on the importation, exportation and manufacture of small arms and its code of conduct.

President Mills said ahead of the ratification, government had instituted measures such as working towards marking and tracing of official weapons to ensure good stockpile management and installing of arms registry across the country by the Ghana Police Service to help facilitate proper gun control in the country.

He said government had also reconstituted the Ghana National Commission on Small Arms to facilitate gun control in the country as well as working with her neighbours to achieve good border control of arms to avoid their sipping through into the country.

President Mills said the country was also playing a contributory role at the United Nations level to ensure that a global Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), which was being crafted, was carefully negotiated for the benefit of all.

He said government identified with calls by WAANSA to establish common minimum standards in the international weapons market and arms transfers to regulate their movement.

President Mills noted that conventional arms and ammunition trade and transfers caused gross violations of international human rights and humanitarian law adding this undermined efforts to meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

"You are therefore better placed as WAANSA to articulate the concerns of the voiceless and vulnerable groups in our communities who are daily victims of small arms misuse and proliferation", President Mills said and urged civil society to champion the interest of the vulnerable in society.

He said government believed in demonstrating responsibility and accountability on issues of arms importation and exportation assuring the citizenry of their safety and protection against all forms of human rights violations.

President Mills was hopeful that through collective efforts, substantial gains would be made towards the curtailment of small arms and light weapons proliferation to provide overall security leading to positive improvements in the socio-economic development for all.

Mr. Baffour Dokyi Amoa, President of WAANSA called for stronger measures to deal with the menace of drugs, human trafficking, conflicts, poverty, partisanship among others.

He said the non-existence of job opportunities for the youth made them fall prey to unconventional and unacceptable means such as misuse of locally manufactured guns which fuelled lawlessness.

Mr. Amoa called on all and sundry, to join the fight against small arms and light weapons proliferation.

Mr. Ken Kinney, President of WAANSA-Ghana said the uncontrolled access to small arms had created an environment of impunity making all to resort to using them to address disagreements leading to destruction of lives and property.

He said WAANSA-Ghana would partner stakeholders to complement government's efforts to ensure security of all.


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