Illicit Possession of Arms: Government Focuses On Strict Regulation

The objective is to reduce illegal circulation of arms, end violence and promote peace.

Within the framework of promoting peace through a reduction in the circulation of unauthorized weapons in the hands of civilians, government has committed itself to a strict regulation on arms ownership. This was during the official launching of the Amnesty Month in Cameroon dubbed SEPTAMM2020 by External Relations Minister, Mbella Mbella, on October 19, 2020 in the presence of other government officials and members of the diplomatic corps.

Commemorated under the theme “Silencing the guns; a pledge to our future generations on the continent,” Minister Mbella Mbella said activities will be organised in Cameroon from now till December to educate the public on the dangers of the illicit proliferation and circulation of small arms and light weapons. “It is estimated that there are more than 100 million arms in circulation in Africa with more than 40 million owned by civilians. Statistics also indicate that only a few of these civilians have a permit. Weapons that escape control as well as their illicit purchase and transfer pose a recurrent security problem in the continent,” he noted, adding the ‘silencing the gun’ project is a great opportunity to work in a coherent and sustainable way towards the reduction of the illicit possession of arms.

In Cameroon, Minister Mbella Mbella said some of the activities which would be carried include amongst others, general sensitisation especially traditional rulers on the 2016 law which consists the general code on arms. The Minister of External Relations cited measures taken by government to reduce illicit arms circulation including the creation of the National Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration Commission (NDDR) by the President of the Republic.

The Deputy Chief of Conventional Arms Branch of UNODA, Dr. Richard Ivor Fung said there is the need for a monitoring and evaluation of arms ownership given that the future of young generations in Africa is at stake as long as the guns have not been silenced. “Small arms have been used to commit serious human rights violations, acts of gender-based violence, and attacks on peacekeepers and humanitarian workers,” he regretted.  To him, misunderstandings should be settled through dialogue.

Speaking on behalf of the civil society, the Executive Director of CAMYOSFOP and Cameroon’s Representative to the African Union ECOSOCC, Eugine Ngalim, said illegal arms ownership are a threat to peace and cause of several conflicts, reason efforts need to be redoubled to eradicate their circulation. Silencing the guns is an initiative created by the African Union designed to end conflicts in Africa by 2020.  The three-year initiative which started in 2017 and ends this year has been renewed for another three years.



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