CSOs Bemoan the state of Arms Regulations in Ghana
Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) working on Peace and Security in Ghana have bemoaned the current status of arms regulation in Ghana. The group has expressed great concern that Ghana has hardly performed its obligations under the many international treaties, conventions and protocols on arms, especially Small Arms and Light Weapons (SAWL) it has signed onto and ratified.
The CSOs raised these concerns in a capacity building workshop on emerging issues on Small Arms and light weapons organised by the National Commission on Small Arm in Ho in the Volta Region from 7th – 9th October 2020. The focus of the workshop was to discuss the current status of arms in the country ahead of the 2020 elections and the role of CSOs in ensuring peaceful elections.
The Commission revealed that Government is working hard to reduce the proliferation of Small Arms in the country and the need to support CSOs to educate and sensitise citizens on the dangers of illicit arms to Ghana’s development and to the peace the country is enjoying. According to the Executive Secretary of the Commission, Mr Jones Aplerh the engagement with CSOs is particularly important ahead of the election 2020 to harness a collective effort to protect Ghana’s peace and security.
The CSOs however are worried that out of the approximately 2.2 million arms in civilian hands in Ghana, approximately 1.1 million were unregistered hence illicit. Small Arms and light weapons are still regulated by the Arms and Ammunitions Act 1972 (NRCD 9), promulgated when Ghana was under Military rule. Ghana has signed onto several international treaties on arms and security including; the United Nation Programme of Action (UNPOA) on Small Arms, the ECOWAS Convention on Small Arms and Light Weapons and their related materials, The Bamako declaration on African Common Position on the illicit Proliferation Circulation and Trafficking of SALW, The Arms Trade Treaty among many others, all aimed at regulating the trade, use, transfer of arms among states as well as internally.
According to Mrs. Theodora Williams Anti, the Programmes Manager and representative for the Foundation for Security and Development in Africa (FOSDA) at the event, ‘it is worrying that despite all the treaties and conventions Ghana has signed onto, the Arms and Ammunition has not been reviewed since 1972’. She said the situation has created gaps in the system which perpetuates the increase of illicit arms and armed violence in the country, that threatens peace and security. This she said correlate significantly with the recent increase in armed violence and killings across the country. Mrs Anti indicated that the arms industry is a very fluid one, with constantly increasing levels of sophistication hence the need to review the law. She urged the Ministry of Interior and the NCSA to fast track efforts to review the law. Other CSOs represented at the meeting included BEWDA, BNS, CDD, DI, IDEG, MFCS, WACCE, WOM, WANEP-Ghana, WILPF, YAG, YES, YPSA. Academic institutions such as University of Ghana, Legon and the University of Professional studies were also represented.