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Regional News of Wednesday, 19 March 2014


Small Arms Commission begins nationwide marking of weapons

The National Commission on Small Arms and Light Weapons has begun a nationwide exercise to mark all weapons of the various security agencies.

The exercise which started with the military will be extended to other security agencies such as the Police, prisons, immigration and the Customs Excise and Preventive Service (CEPS).

The marking of weapons involves a systematic embossment of unique identification numbers on firearms to make them easily identifiable and coherent. This is expected to provide a database of all weapons to enable the Small Arms Commission to keep track of weapons and track any illegally diverted weapons to the point of diversion.

So far, over a thousand weapons have been marked.

The move is part of measures by the commission to control the proliferation of illicit small arms and light weapons in the country.

International protocols

According to the Executive Secretary of the Small Arms Commission, Jones Applerh, many international instruments and protocols enjoined states to put in place mechanisms for effective marking and tracing to facilitate small arms control.

He observed that one key benefit of marking was that if a weapon which had been used to commit a crime was found in the unauthorised possession of a person or a group of persons, the relevant authorities could trace the weapon as part of their investigation to prosecute those culpable.

“Comprehensive marking of weapons, combined with analysis, will enable law enforcement agencies and other relevant authorities to identify and monitor trends and patterns of supply and use of illicit arms,” he added.

Mr Applerh stated that the marking exercise was the first of its kind in the West African sub-region and that Ghana was now a model in small arms inventory control in the region.

Ghana is currently among three other West African countries including Togo, Mali and Cote d’Ivoire to have started the weapon-marking project.

In 2012, the Regional Centre for Small Arms and Light Weapons (RECSA) based in Kenya presented two weapon-marking machines to Ghana during a three-day training programme for security personnel on weapon marking and record-keeping in Accra in a bid to eliminate the illicit trade and proliferation of small arms and weapons.

Mr Applerh said he was hopeful that the commission would get the needed support to move to the next stage of developing a comprehensive computerised (automated) record-keeping and data-management system to replace the manual (paper) record-keeping system which was laborious and unreliable for effective prosecution of small arms-related offences.

He envisaged that all legitimately held small arms and light weapons would ultimately be marked for easy identification, tracing and management.

The exercise which has begun in the Greater Accra Region will be replicated in the other regions across the country.