General News of Friday, 23 March 2007
Accra, March 23, GNA - Parliament on Friday passed the National Commission on Small Arms Bill after taking it through the Third Reading. The bill seeks to establish a national commission to deal with small arms and lights weapons.
It would also provide a framework for programmes of action to prevent, combat and eradicate the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons and educate the public on these matters.
A report of the Committee on Defence and Interior said Ghana was obliged under Article 24.1 of the ECOWAS Convention on Small Arms to establish through regulation or legislation a commission on small arms in accordance with Article 51 of the ECOWAS Protocol on the Mechanism for Prevention, Management and Resolution of Conflicts and Keeping Peace and Security.
The report said it has been noted with concern the recent increases in small arms in the West African sub region, which was responsible for most conflicts.
Over 600 million illicit weapons are in circulation worldwide with Africa accounting for 30 million of these weapons, the report said. "About eight million illicit weapons are currently circulating in West Africa. The baseline assessment of illicit small arms indicates that there are at least 220,000 in civilian hands in Ghana, " the report added.