Jan 7, 2011, 12:52 PM
As NA Amends Arms and Ammunition Bill
In what appears to be a move geared towards deterring would-be offenders, the National Assembly on Thursday amended the Arms and Ammunitions Bill to increase the penalties for the exportation and importation of arms from and into the country.
The Act, enacted in 1924 to make regulation relating to arms and ammunition, now prohibits the exportation and importation of arms and ammunition except under licence.
The Act also prohibits, among other things, having firearms, arms of war or ammunition without authority, transportation of firearms without licence and the manufacture and assembling of firearms, arms of war or of ammunition except at arsenals established by government.
Under the new Act, except in cases where some lesser penalty is provided, a person who is guilty of an offence against the Act is liable on conviction to a fine of not less than D100, 000 and imprisonment for a term not exceeding 20 years in case of an individual.
The Act also provides for conviction in case of a corporate body to a fine of not less than D500,000 and imprisonment for a term of 25 years for each of the three most senior heads of the body.
Tabling the motion before the National Assembly for amendment, Mr Ousman Sonko, Secretary of State for Interior, noted that penalties for the Act are no longer adequate and that the new Act seeks to increase just that to serve as a deterrent to would-be offenders.
"It is in light of the above that the Arms and Ammunition Act is being amended to increase the penalties for the offences to act as a deterrent to would-be offenders," said Interior Secretary Ousman Sonko.
Contributing to the motion, Hon. Bintanding Jarju, Member for Foni Berefet, said the lack of peace and security anywhere around the world was tantamount to destruction in the sense that people have been killed and properties destroyed. "We are talking of the peace and security that we are enjoying in this country. And if there is no control of these arms and ammunition, there will come a time when we will feel insecure in this country and we would be like other countries around the world", she noted.