Sierra Leone clamp down on illicit arms

2011-07-25 22:08
Freetown - Sierra Leone has launched a five-year plan to regulate the sale and use of small arms, which still abound a decade after the end of a civil war, causing insecurity, an official said on Monday.

"The proliferation of illicit small arms and light weapons account for 90% of the economic uncertainty" in the country, the head of Sierra Leone's Small Arms Commission (SAC), retired Brigadier Leslie Lymon, said.

He told AFP that a five year national action plan launched over the weekend aims to "regulate the manufacture, sale and use of small arms and light weapons".

The plan is based on a 2010 survey which assessed the perception of the role of light weapons after the 1991-2002 civil war, the socio-economic impact of small arms on national recovery and the stockpile management and security on Sierra Leone.

"Public opinion has linked illicit small arms and poverty," said Lymon.

"Over 90% of all respondents were convinced that illicit small arms created insecurity and prevented people from pursuing income generating activities because of fear."

The Small Arms Commission took over from the United Nations Arms for Development Programme in August 2010, and has since collected over 645 rounds of ammunition and nearly 7 000 weapons from around the country.

He said all ammunition collected will be destroyed at a symbolic ceremony in the northern city of Makeni soon to demonstrate the government's determination to curb the proliferation of small arms.

He said a firearms licensing bureau is to be set up and a new firearms law enacted by parliament which will again pave the way for civilians to own firearms after a ban at the end of the civil war.

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