Conference on weapon marking and record keeping opens in Accra
Mr Chris Kpodo, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration on Wednesday opened a three-day training programme on weapon marking and record keeping for heads of security agencies in Accra.
Weapon marking and record keeping involves the systematic tracking of illicit weapons from their sources or manufacturer to the last legal or illegal owner through supply lines to the point at which they are diverted onto the illicit market.
The programme, being undertaken on pilot basis in Ghana, La Cote d’Ívoire, Mali and Togo, is being implemented by the Regional Centre for Small Arms and Light Weapons and sponsored by the African Union and European Union (EU) and would be duplicated in other West African countries.
Mr Kpodo said the training was aimed at equipping personnel in the security agencies with appropriate skills to effectively address the fundamental challenges of identifying and tracking down arms and weapons.
“This training which conforms to Article 18 and 19 of the ECOWAS Convention renews our shared commitment and collective responsibility to our West African Sub-Region.”
He urged the international community to assist ECOWAS countries come out with legislations that would help fight against illegal weapon trafficking.
“I believe the solution lies in ECOWAS working together to harmonise legislation, and the international community assisting national institutions to establish the capacities to deal with this canker.”
Mr Kpodo noted that Ghana demonstrated the seriousness she attached to small arms issues when in 1998 signed the ECOWAS Moratorium on the importation, exportation and the manufacturing of small arms and light weapons in West Africa.
He commended the Regional Centre for Small Arms and Light Weapons (RECSA) based in Kenya, the Ministry of the Interior and National Commission on Small Arms and Light Weapons for the training programme.
Mr Kpodo expressed hope that the training session would adequately acquaint participants with the needed information for weapon marking and record keeping.
Mr Jones Applerh, Acting Executive Secretary, National Commission on Small Arms and Light Weapons expressed appreciation to RECSA, EU and ECOWAS for selecting Ghana as part of the pilot process for the programme.
“We are glad that through this initiative, Ghana has taken a giant step to fulfil her obligations under Article 17 and 18 of the ECOWAS Convention on small arms.”
Mr Applerh noted that comprehensive marking of weapons, combined with analysis, could enable law enforcement agencies and other relevant authorities identify and monitor trends and patterns of supply and use of illicit arms, thereby helping in policy formulation.