Dec 16, 2008, 6:22 AM
"Gambia yet to ratify ECOWAS Convention on Small Arms” was the recent headline of a story in a local newspaper.
It said the Gambia government is yet to ratify the ECOWAS convention on small arms and light weapons, even though it signed it nearly eight years ago.
This is according to an official of the ECOWAS Commission, who reportedly revealed this fact at a forum for local journalists.
It was organised recently by the national commission on small arms at the Kairaba Beach Hotel.
The three-day forum was designed as a “sensitisation and capacity-building” session for journalists from the print and electronic media.
They were given knowledge and information to enable them engage in sensitising the public on the dangers posed by the proliferation of small and light weapons, in West Africa especially.
However, it is clear from the foregoing that the journalists will have to start with sensitising the Gambian authorities first.
The convention entered into force on 29 September 2009, when it was ratified by Benin Republic.
The ECOWAS official said ratification needs to be done by the National Assembly in Banjul, and signed by the President.
This document then becomes a legal instrument which the Gambia government forwards to the ECOWAS Commission.
Ratification will facilitate domestication of provisions of the convention through national laws.
It also enables ECOWAS and funding partners to provide support to the country in this area.
Gambian journalists must embark on this sensitization exercise, to impress upon our own government the importance of this matter, and why it should be given top priority.
This was the national assignment given to journalists by our own national commission on small arms and the ECOWAS Commission.
They must live up to expectations, lest they be found wanting in carrying out this task, which could also be described as a national duty.
a people who are free, and who mean to remain so, a well-organized and armed
militia is their best security."