Mr. Ousman Sonko, the Minister of Interior has lamented on the sharp increase in drug trafficking, proliferation and trafficking of illicit weapons across the borders, noting that the menace is a serious cause for concern.
Minister Sonko, who was speaking yesterday at the opening of a two-day stakeholders' forum on the ECOWAS Convention on Small Arms and Light Weapons, said "This is why The Gambia will continue to play her rightful role in generating and supporting good practices, aimed at controlling the licensed possession and use, and the removal of illicit ones from unauthorised persons by all means".
"Be rest assured that the government of The Gambia remains committed to the enhancement of security internally, regionally and in the rest of the continent", Mr. Sonko told his audience. He stressed the need for more support and participation, geared towards removing illegal arms and preventing their misuse, abuse and trafficking.
According to the Interior Minister, the issue about illicit small arms and light weapons is of high importance to the government of The Gambia.
"The security and stability of our communities in the country at large is a major concern and preoccupation of the government, which is indeed in line with national development objectives as enshrined in Vision 2020," he stated.
Small arms and light weapons, Minister Sonko added, have become weapons of mass destruction in today's armed conflict.
"The fact that they are easily accessible, inexpensive and very often portable, these weapons have become preferred weapons of choice.
"With the sharp increase in drug trafficking, the proliferation and trafficking of illicit weapons across borders raise a serious cause for concern", he stated.
The forum, under the theme "Ratification of the ECOWAS Convention on Small Arms and Light Weapons", will examine the Gambia's legal instrument on arms and ammunition: gaps and challenges, and areas that need to be strengthened in light of the 2006 ECOWAS Convention on Small Arms and Light Weapons.
The forum will also explore harmonisation of these legal documents as well as the process of ratification of the convention and its provisions and requirements.