MONROVIA – A Specialized Training on Small Arms and light weapons control, Arms Trade, Transfer, Transshipment, Trafficking as well as Gender in arms control for joint security officers assigned at the Ganta – Guinea and Loguatuo borders in Nimba County and Toe Town (Tobli) border in Grand Gedeh county organized by the Liberia National Commission on Small (LiNCSA) in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has ended with the certification of Sixty (60) Border Security Officers from the Liberia Immigration Service (LIS), Liberia Revenue Authority (Customs Officers), Liberia National Police (LNP), Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) and the Liberia Drug Enforcement Agency (LDEA). Other beneficiaries of the Specialized Training included local authorities and other relevant stakeholders.
The specialized training sessions which were held in three (3) separate locations in the two targeted counties from August 10-17, 2021 are part of ongoing efforts by LiNCSA to increase border security officers understanding in arms control legislation and history of civilian firearms possession of Liberia, acquaint them with regional and international treaties, conventions and protocols on arms control of which Liberia is a State Party. The training also sought to enhance the capacity of joint security officers to become more proactive in preventing the diversion of illicit small arms, their ammunition, light weapons, explosives and other related materials across the borders of Liberia.
The courses presented during the training include: Liberia Arms Control Legislations and Enforcement, Harmonizing Existing Arms Control Legislations with the global Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), Weapon and Ammunition Management (WAM), Small Arms, their Ammunition, Light Weapons (SALW) and Explosives Transfer Control, Border Security Management and Gender in Arms Control.
The courses for the specialized training were facilitated by Arms Control Experts from the Small Arms Commission of Liberia, the Liberia Immigration Service and a Revenue Specialist from the Liberia Revenue Authority, (Customs Division).
Speaking at separate scenes during the opening ceremonies, LiNCSA Chairman Atty. Teklo Maxwell Grigsby II called on Border Security Officers to demonstrate the attitude of pro-activeness in the discharge of their duties, stressing that officers assigned at the borders are also the custodians of the peace and security of the state. The Specialized Training, according to Chairman Grigsby is to make border security officers more cautious about the illicit circulations of firearms and other dangerous substances coming in the country through the border, noting that border security officers should be mindful of familiar persons crossing the border both in and out of the country.
LiNCSA Boss, engaging participants noted that there are unscrupulous individuals who are in the constant act of illegal buying and selling of small arms and light weapons and their ammunitions in Liberia, something that threatens and undermines the security of the country. At such, Chairman Grigsby emphasized that border security officers have the responsibility to bring to book persons caught in illicit firearms trade and must never compromise their job by allowing the borders to be used for the trafficking of small arms and other illegal activities.
Chairman Grigsby informed participants that the Commission in collaboration with the Liberia National Police (LNP) would soon commence the registration of single barrel guns for hunters across the country since the exercise was disrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic. The Small Arms Boss asserted that in keeping with the Liberia Firearms and Ammunition Control Act of 2015, any person in possession of arms except registered hunters and authorized state security officers is in violation and would be charged with felony.
Chairman Grigsby lauded His Excellency George Manneh Weah, President of the Republic of Liberia for the strong political will and unflinching support towards the control of small arms and light weapons in Liberia and thanked the ECOWAS Commission, German Federal Foreign Office, and the European Union for their continuous support and partnership.
Local Authorities who attended the opening sessions were the City Mayors, Township Commissioners, and Commanders of joint security at border points in Ganta, Loguatou and Toe Town.
In separate statements, Local County Authorities appreciated the Commission commitment in ridding small arms and light weapons in Liberia and at the same time acknowledged the specialized training designed for borders security officers. The Local Authorities recommended extending the specialized training to other persons in high positions in the various security agencies and other active stakeholders. The specialized training, according to them, is an eye-opener for border security officers to effectively discharge their duties without fear or favor noting that borders are tempting terrains and must require practical skills for effective management.
In addition to the specialized training, the Small Arms Commission conducted massive awareness and sensitization events on Arms Trafficking and illicit arms trade at main border points and their surrounding communities including the Ganta-Guinea and Loguatou-Ivory Coast Borders, Nimbia County and Toe-Town (B’hai)-Ivory Coast Border, Grand Gedeh County as well as Jorwah border in Bong County. The awareness component was welcomed by community dwellers, with the involvement of county officials, border security officers, motorcyclists and marketers.
The Commission ensured that during both training sessions and awareness activities, Covid-19 preventive measures in keeping with the Ministry of Health regulations were strictly followed.
This initiative is funded under the framework of Liberia’s Component of the ECOWAS-EU Organized Crime West Africa Response to Trafficking (OCWAR-T) Project. OCWAR-T is a three-year project for seven ECOWAS member states, including Liberia, which is being funded by the European Union (EU) and the German Federal Foreign Office (GFFO), managed by the UNDP, implemented by Liberia National Commission on Small Arms (LiNCSA) and coordinated by GIZ.