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Forum discusses small arms, light weapons

May 21, 2010, 11:32 AM | Article By: Njie Baldeh

A national small arms and light weapons survey studies, organised by the Ministry of Interior, in collaboration with ECOSAP, was on Wednesday validated, at a workshop held at the Paradise Suites Hotel in Kololi.

The workshop brought together key stakeholders, as well as international bodies to review the impact of small arms and light weapons proliferation on social and economic development of The Gambia.

In his opening remarks, Honourable Ousman Sonko, the Minister of Interior said the overall objective of the study report is to assess the level and magnitude of small arms proliferation in the country, evaluate the impact on the socio-economic development of the country, and to review firearms legislative framework and provisions.

He said it should be noted that the study reports are part and parcel of regional efforts, spearheaded by ECOSAP, aimed at curbing the proliferation of small arms and light weapons and minimising their negative impacts on sustainable peace and development in the ECOWAS sub-region.

Minister Sonko highlighted its importance to the maintenance of peace and security, noting that it is the key pillar to sustainable development. He went on to explain that The Gambia along with other member states of ECOWAS have in the past embarked on a series of measures to curb the proliferation of SALW.  He revealed that as part of these commitments, the government in April 2009, had passed the bill establishing the National Commission Against the Proliferation of Small Arms and Light Weapons and went further to provide it with an office and initial running cost.

Mr. Mohamed Coulibaly, the Programme Manager of ECOSAP, noted that the workshop marks the end of a series of activities in the framework of the conduct of baseline national small arms surveys, supported by ECOSAP in the fifteen member states since 2007. These activities, according to him include national public dialogue workshop on SALWs, national stockpile management workshop, review on the socio-economic impact of SALWs, legal review on SALWs and administration of househole Surveys.

Mr. Coulibaly added that the ECOWAS convention on SALWs, which is one of the most restrictive legal instruments in the world came into force in September 2009, after the 9th member state, Republic of Benin deposited their instruments of ratification.