Hon. Ambrose Dery, Minister for the Interior
Mrs. Adelaide Anno-Kumi, Chief Director, Ministry of the Interior
UNDP Country Director, Angela Luisi
Board Members of the National Commission on Small Arms and Light Weapons
Mr. Jones Borteye Applerh, Executive Secretary, Small Arms Commission,
Staff of the National Commission on Small Arms and Light Weapons here present,
Our cherished Friends from the Media
Ladies and Gentlemen
It is my pleasure to welcome you all to the Board Retreat of the National Commission on Small Arms and Light Weapons. It is a privilege to have the opportunity to serve as the Chairman of the Commission once again for a second term. I am hopeful that this second term would offer us the opportunity to attain the targets and objectives that we set for ourselves.
Ladies and Gentlemen, it is no doubt that Ghana is a beacon of peace in West Africa. This is because the Government, supported by the Security Agencies, have managed our internal security well. Democracy, good governance, and rule of law is thriving in this country.
However, as with all countries, we have our internal security challenges which include chieftaincy and land disputes, ethnic rivalries, inciting language by some politicians and journalists in the media, just to mention a few. We still experience armed robberies and homicide cases. All of these involve the usage and abuse of small arms. The global security landscape has also changed significantly in the last (2) decades and issues of violent extremism and terrorism are on the rise. The above stated security challenges among others set out clearly the issues that the Board must concern itself with and find answers to.
The immediate past Board which I chaired from June 2017 to January 6, 2021 had a similar Retreat in November 2017 for the Board Members to appreciate that tasks given to them by Government by their nomination to the Board vis-à-vis the mandate, functions (Act 736 of 2007) and challenges of the Commission and decide on the strategies to achieve the Commission’s goal. The Board upon reflection and deliberations adopted among other things the following priorities that:
- The Commission’s mandate should be revised to make it a regulatory body instead of an advisory one.
- Without prejudice to existing mandates of MDAs, the Arms and Ammunition Legislation should be reviewed with a view to addressing identified gaps and consolidating laws on arms and ammunition in Ghana for easy reference, clarity, monitoring and control.
- Consideration should be given to name change of the Commission due to growing treaties
- The Commission requires Internally Generated Funds (IGF) to support its activities
- The Commission should:
- Take immediate steps to establish at least six (6) Regional Offices to enhance its work and promote its visibility
- Take the Weapons Marking Project seriously and go beyond the 5% weapons marked in 2017 to at least 30% marked by the end of 2020.
- Establish a Database Management System on Small Arms and related matters to capture data on arms related incidents among others in collaboration with the Security Agencies, particularly the Ghana Police Service
- Promote effective Border and Port Management to minimize arms smuggling
- Take advantage of events and programmes such as general elections, durbars, festivals, musicals shows or concerts, etc to sensitize the public on the dangers associated with the misuse of small arms
- Carry out Public Education and Awareness Raising Campaigns nationwide
- Organize Regular stakeholders’ meetings
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, some progress was made at achieving the set priorities.
Programmes that were carried out included the “Ballots Without Bullets”, an aggressive public sensitization for peaceful elections during the 2020 General Elections, Collection and Destruction of 4,070 illicit small arms, Marking of most weapons of the Ghana Police Service, and development of the Small Arms Database Management System for tracking arms related issues in the country.
The Board also led the establishment of six (6) regional offices in the Ashanti, Western, Volta, Northern, Upper East and Upper West regions as part of the decentralization agenda of the Commission among others.
Despite the carrying out of the above programmes, our 2020 elections unfortunately experienced some gun related violence. We still have incidents of armed robbery in our society, simmering chieftaincy tensions, land disputes and ethnic conflicts in the country.
Ladies and Gentlemen, our appointment to the new Board which has over 50% of the old Members offers us an opportunity to consolidate the successes and gains made by the previous Board.
I wish to reiterate the call by our Security Agencies that there are new and emerging threats such as violent extremism, terrorism, etc. which all involved the use of small arms and light weapons.
The UN Research indicates that the insecurity we see being perpetuated by the youth is borne out of lack of socio-economic opportunities for them. This makes them easy targets for recruitment and radicalization by terrorist groups.
I, therefore, urge that before we leave this meeting, we should come up with strategies that must consider ways to prevent, combat and eradicate the proliferation of illicit small arms and light weapons and ensure that our youth do not have easy access to small arms as well as support and get enticed into the terrorist networks.
With these few words, I pray that we have a very fruitful retreat.
I thank you for your attention.