The Minister for the Interior, Ambrose Dery has stressed the need for countries in the sub-region to establish comprehensive database systems of small arms and light weapons.
This, he said would facilitate prompt and effective tracing of illicit arms and prevent their diversion that continue to fuel organised crimes, armed conflicts and other criminal activities in the sub-region.
He expressed worry that majority of the members of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) had not complied with ECOWAS Conventions that enjoins them to do so.
He said these in a speech read on his behalf at the opening of the Council Working Group on Conventional Arms Exports (COARM) Second Regional Workshop on Arms Transfer Controls and Arms Diversion in Accra yesterday.
Delegates from ECOWAS member States, observer countries and other international experts, attending the two-day event, will deliberate on arms diversion and propose solutions.
It is being organised by the European Union, German Federal Office for Economic Affairs and Export Controls (BAFA) and Ghana National Commission for Small Arms and Light Weapons.
“It is when arms are traced in conflict zones and crime scenes that information obtained can be used to improve the effectiveness of arms control measures to avoid diversion,” Mr Dery said.
Touching on the severity of diversion of arms, Mr Dery said 52 per cent of global armed conflict incidents in 2014 occurred in African, although the continent has only 16 per cent of the world’s pollution.
He said eight million small arms and light weapons were transiting through the sub-region in 2006 with an estimated 45.6 per cent of African women experiencing gender based violence as a result of armed conflicts.
Aside “needless deaths and injuries”, illegal trans-border trade in drugs and general insecurity proliferation of arms affected the socio-economic development of the continent and all stakeholders must work hard to address the situation.
Chairperson of the COARM, Caroline Cliff commended efforts by ECOWAS to address the issue of arms diversion with 14 out of 15 member states ratifying to the Arms Trade Treaty which enjoins them to put in place preventive measures.
“The scale of senseless damage resulting from malicious use of arms and the pain this inflicts on countless innocent lives is harrowing and should not be permitted” she said and pledged continual support.
Rev. Paul Frimpong Manso, chairman of Ghana National Commission for Small Arms and Light Weapons expressed concern over the unauthorised producers of small arms in the sub region and called for an effective computerised registration and licensing of arms to bring privately owned small arms under control.
By Jonathan Donkor