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27.08.2004 General News

Commission begins survey on small arms

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Accra, Aug. 27, GNA- The Ghana National Commission on Small Arms (GNCSA) has begun a survey and monitoring programme on small arms manufacturing to control their proliferation as they have been a factor in fuelling ethnic conflicts.

Mr Hackman Owusu-Agyemang, Minister of the Interior, told a press conference on Friday that there was the need for public sensitisation programmes against the proliferation of small arms, especially the unlicensed ones to ensure public safety.

He said the programme, being supported by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), was to strengthen the steady and peaceful development of Ghana through the eradication of the illicit trade in small arms.

Mr Owusu-Agyemang said the UNDP was helping to establish a central coordination unit for the GNCSA to take inventory of weapons in the system in order to effectively retrieve and destroy them.

One of the first landmark measures the government undertook on assumption of office was the retrieval of 1,320 illegal weapons in private hands that were later destroyed, he added.

He said since a complete ban of small arms would rather make manufacturers go underground, the GNCSA was looking for ways to legalise the manufacture of these arms in order to hold the manufacturers responsible.

Mr Owusu-Agyemang said Heads of State and Governments of ECOWAS signed a moratorium on the importation, exportation and manufacture of light weapons on October 31, 1998 and this was currently operational. He said the justification for the establishment of GNCSA was due to organised crimes and small arms, availability of small arms and promotion of armed insurrection and rebel activities as well as the smuggling of arms across the borders.

Mr Christophe Bahuet, UNDP Deputy Resident Representative, said the UNDP had provided 350,000 dollars for the establishment of the GNCSA. It has also donated equipment worth about 130,000 dollars for its operations.

He said the assistance the UNDP was providing for the control and reduction of small arms in Ghana was part of its larger involvement to support government in conflict prevention, management and resolution. Mr Bahuet said the areas being supported by the UNDP included the capacity building of the GNCSA, increasing the efficiency of the National Firearms Bureau, undertaking a survey on the proliferation of arms and sensitisation campaign on small arms.

He said good progress had been made since the start of the activities and there was the need to improve on it.

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