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General News of Thursday, 3 November 2011

Source: GNA

Tamale Blacksmiths To End Manufacturing Of Small Arms

A group of Blacksmith in Tamale on Tuesday resolved to put an end to the illicit manufacturing and fixing of arms as their quota towards ensuring peace in the area.

They also pledged to report any person or group of persons who is found manufacturing illicit arms since it has negative repercussions on the socio-economic development of the country.

The group made the resolution at a sensitisation forum organised by the Ghana National Commission on Small Arms (GNACSA) with support from the United Nations Development Programme.

It was on the theme: “Human Safety and Economic Empowerment.”

A blacksmith, Abu Alhassan said they produce small arms due to financial gains. “If you are a good blacksmith and you are cash trapped and someone commission you to manufacture a gun for him for a good fee what will you do?” he asked.

The blacksmiths called for support to enhance their capacity to improve upon their production to be able to earn a living. Mr Gyebi Asante, a Senior Programmes Officer at GNACSA said tolerance and dialogue are the two important elements that could help facilitate economic development in the Northern Region.

He said often, arms controlled people’s anger and does not enable them to think before they act, which resulted in disaster.

“Illicit arms are enemy to national peace and development. The manufacturer and the user have a stake in its negative and disastrous effects, which we all need to help prevent,” he said.

Mr Asante explained that it is first felony offence under the criminal code for one to manufacture or posses a gun without clearance from the Ghana Police Service. “The offence has a minimum punishment of 10 years imprisonment and a maximum of life sentence,” he said.

He called on the group to educate their colleagues not to engage in illicit arms since it could only make people poor and insecure.

Mr Asante said though the country has been described as an oasis of peace, illicit arms in the hands of civilians is of great concern to the Commission considering the pockets of chieftaincy and land disputes.

Currently an estimated 130,000 illicit small arms and weapons are perceived to be in the hands of civilians with only 43.2 per cent of it registered, while 34 per cent is illegally manufactured locally, according to a report on illicit small arms by the UNDP in 2004.

He said about 80 per cent of the locally manufactured arms and weapons are used in committing crime such as armed robbery and therefore the Commission will collaborate with other stakeholders to see how best local blacksmiths will be discouraged from engaging in such trade.

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