Liberia: Small Arms Commission Holds Three Days Stakeholders’ Consultations to Review and Amend the Firearms and Ammunition Control Act of 2015
Monrovia – The Government of Liberia through the Liberia National Commission on Small Arms (LiNCSA) officially commenced a three-day Stakeholders’ Consultation to review and amend the Firearms and Ammunition Control Act of 2015 (FACA), its Regulations and the Act establishing the Small Arms.
The official opening of the consultation held on Monday, November 2, 2020 at the Monrovia City Hall brought together heads and senior officials of Defense and Para-military Institutions, Diplomatic Missions accredited near Monrovia, other relevant Agencies of the Government of Liberia, including the Office of Liberia Peace Ambassador, International Organizations (ECOWAS, UNDP, MRU among others), Civil Society Organizations, Members of the Press and Religious Community.
The Chairman of the Commission, Atty. Teklo Maxwell Grigsby, II in his opening remarks extended profound gratitude to H.E. Dr. George Manneh Weah, President of the Republic of Liberia for the confidence reposed in him to chair Liberia’s Program of Action on Arms Control within and across the borders of the Republic.
Chairman Grigsby indicated, that as the Commission in collaboration with the United Nations Development Program commenced the three days stakeholders’ consultation to review and amend the Small Arms Commission Act and the Firearms and Ammunition Control Act and its regulations, it’s not unmindful of the need for stringent measures to prevent, combat and eradicate the illicit trade in Small Arms, their ammunitions, light weapons and other related materials, considering highly that their misused before and during the over 14-years of devastating armed conflict that erupted in 1989 made Liberia the epicenter of the death and destruction which engulfed West African sub-region, especially neighboring countries.
The Small Arm Boss asserted that Liberia in compliance with the requirements of the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) which came into force on December 24, 2014, and was ratified on July 20, 2015 has made enormous progress towards domesticating the tenets of the Arms Trade Treaty into Liberian Legal framework, and integrate the Principles of the Arms Trade Treaty into standing Firearm Laws and Regulations, and revise the institutional structure for implementation of the ECOWAS Convention, the Arms Trade Treaty, the UN Program of Action, and all other arms and stockpile related Conventions and Treaties to which Liberia is a state party. Chairman Grigsby thanked the European Union, ECOWAS, German Cooperation, GIZ and UNDP for the support towards improving the legal framework for arms control in Liberia.
Speaking on behalf of the Resident Representative of UNDP Dr. Pa Lamin Beyai, Mr. James P. Monibah, while describing the significant steps of reviewing and amending the laws, cautioned authorities of the Small Arms Commission to engage into robust community awareness to get citizens abreast with the existing realities.
The Team Leader on Inclusive Governance Pillar reaffirmed UNDP commitment to assist the Commission curb the illicit flow of small arms and light weapons in Liberia and West Africa. Mr. Monibah lauded the German Government, ECOWAS and European Union for sponsoring projects leading to peace and stability in Liberia.
Speaking on behalf of the Minister of Justice Honorable Frank Musa Dean at the opening session, the Assistant Minister of Codification Atty. Abraham Mitchell conveyed Minister Dean’s heartfelt gratitude to the Small Arms Commission, and described the review of the Firearms law and its regulations as best practice.
Atty. Mitchell asserted that the revision of the firearms law is expedient giving the current living condition in the sub region, which is hugely characterized by state fragility, where organized crimes, including drugs, human trafficking and small arms proliferation and illicit trade are widespread.
The Assistant Minister for Codification pointed out that the revision of the firearms law must be intended to deal with contemporary issues and realities, stressing that Liberia, as a state party must be on par with regional and international standards.
Reviewing these laws, according to Atty. Mitchell, the Small Arms Commission must consider working with the Ministry of Justice, especially it’s Codification Department and the Law Review Commission of Liberia for the purpose of synergizing law.
The establishment of the Liberia National Commission on Small Arms, the Assistant Minister asserted, was very imperative in addressing policy gaps, and to play a vital role to respond effectively to the alarming rate of small arms and light weapons in Liberia and the African region.
According to Minister Mitchell, the National Security Strategy of the Republic of Liberia (NSSRL) recognizes illegally held arms, especially small arms and light weapons and ammunitions as a dangerous threat to Liberia’s National Security.
The Minister of Justice proxy seriously noted, that the President’s proclamation of mandatory registration of single barrel hunting guns is a smart idea that is welcomed by the Ministry of Justice. Atty. Mitchell registered the Ministry of Justice preparedness to work with the Small Arms Commission to fulfill the task of Civilian Arms Registration for hunters.
The Assistant Minister for Codification encouraged authorities of LiNCSA to closely work with the Ministry of Internal Affairs in executing the registration of hunting guns.
Atty. Mitchell lauded ECOWAS and UNDP for the support to Liberia’s ongoing peace process, emphasizing the many years Liberia and its people have benefited from donations and capacity building.
His Excellency Ambassador BabaTunde Ajisomo, ECOWAS Special Representative to Liberia, who was also in attendance during the opening session said, that ECOWAS remains steadfast in its role to helping Liberia maintain peace and stability.
Ambassador Ajisomo noted that there is no way to have peace in Liberia unless concerted efforts are considered to address the proliferation of small arms and light weapons.
Proactive initiatives such as the revision and amending the Firearm Law and the Act creating LiNCSA, Ambassador Ajisomo emphasized, are appropriate steps in domesticating the Arms Trade Treaty, which Liberia is a state party.
The ECOWAS Ambassador informed participants attending the Stakeholders Consultation that Liberia is on the right trajectory of becoming the first country to domesticate the Arms Trade Treaty in the region.
Ambassador Ajisomo reiterated ECOWAS’ commitment to support programs of the Small Arms Commission and the Government of Liberia.
The Office of the President represented by the National Security Advisor, Honorable Jefferson S. Kanmoh applauded members of the Security Sector for exhibiting strong interest and collaboration with the Small Arms Commission to assist with the prevention, regulation and controlling of small arms and light weapons.
Hon. Jefferson Kanmoh, who officially opened the technical review session, acknowledged the enormous support of international partners to Liberia particularly the Security Sector.
He commended the leadership of Atty. Teklo Maxwell Grigsby II for practical programs in helping curtail arms proliferation.
The three-day consultation aims to solicit participants’ views and inputs leading to the revision of the Liberia Firearms and Ammunition Control Act of 2015, its Administrative Regulations to reflect provisions of the UN Arms Trade Treaty including manufacture, trade, transfer, transit, transshipment, possession and use of conventional arms. The initiative also aims to review the Act creating LiNCSA to expand its scope beyond small arms to all conventional arms.
The Stakeholders’ Consultative meetings are being organized under the framework of Liberia’s component of the Organized Crime West Africa Response to Trafficking (OCWAR-T) Project, a three-year project funded by ECOWAS and the EU and managed by the United Nations Development Fund.
The project is designed to strengthen regional governance frameworks in combating Transitional Organized Crime and trafficking and to enhance the capacity of state agencies specialized in combating these threats.
Essentially, these Stakeholders’ Consultation meetings are geared towards involving whole range of national and international stakeholders in the reform process for the controlling legal frameworks for arms control in Liberia.
The Liberia National Commission on Small Arms (LiNCSA) is the lead agency on issues of arms management and control in Liberia.