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Sierra Leone News: AOAV Registers 1500 Blacksmiths

Minister of Defence, Palo Conteh, Minister of Internal Affairs, J.B Dauda and SLeNCSA staff observing a weapon marking processIn a bid to provide alternative livelihood for local manufacturers of light weapons such as shotguns, Action on Armed Violence (AOAV) has registered some 1, 500 Blacksmiths in the Mano River Basin as pilot beneficiaries aimed at achieving that objective.
The exercise, also aimed at reducing the impact of armed violence in the four-member country sub regional organization, was recently announced by the Programme Manager of AOAV, Francis Owane-Addo at the launch of the National Weapon Marking and Computerization Programme held at the Joint Logistics Unit at Murray Town, west of Freetown.
The weapon marking and computerization process is in compliance with international treaties to which Sierra Leone is a signatory that include specifically, Article 18 of the ECOWAS Convention on Small Arms and Light Weapons; Part 2 of the United Nations Programme of Action (UNPoA) and the International Tracing Instrument (ITT) to prevent, combat and eradicate the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons in all its manifestations.
Owane-Addo stated that AOAV was successful in the registration exercise by collaborating with blacksmiths; local producers illicit firearms. He said they won the trust and confidences of the blacksmiths with a pledge that the institution will soon take delivery of some basic blacksmithing tools and equipment to selected artisans in order train them to produce other items instead of firearms.
He revealed that AOAV has provided two weapon marking and tracking machines and has sponsored two personnel-one from the Sierra Leone Police (SLP) and another from the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces (RSLAF) to travel to the United States of America for hands-on-training in the use of the marking and tracking machines.
Additionally, the AOAV Programme Manager noted that his organization has also sponsored a Consultant and an IT Expert from the Ghana National Commission on Small Arms, who was recently in Sierra Leone to install marking software and equally train staff in the actual marking exercise.
The Program Manager handed over spare parts and two 3.5kv Diesel Generators to supply supplementary electric power to the marking and tracing machines as the need may arise. He expressed the institution’s satisfaction in working with the Commission on the implementation of the Arms and Ammunition Act.
According to the Commissioner of the Sierra Leone National Commission on Small Arms (SLeNCSA), Brig. (Rtd) Modibo Leslie Lymon, the marking of weapons will greatly benefit the law enforcement agencies, as it will help to narrow their investigations on gun related incidents. He also stated that the exercise will contribute greatly in minimizing cross-border armed violence since all weapons in the sub-region will bear the ECOWAS logo and the respective Mano River Union member-country code.
Brigadier Lymon added that the marking exercise will also aid the generation of data to serve as input into the Arms Registry which will aid proper record keeping and tracing.
He appealed to the leadership and the rank and file of the RSLAF and SLP to continue giving their fullest cooperation to the marking exercise as they go round implementing the exercise.
Officially launching the Weapon Marking and Computerization Programme, the Minister of Internal Affairs, Joseph Bandagbla Dauda stated that the exercise has put Sierra Leone in the enviable position of being ahead of most ECOWAS member States in the implementation of the Conventions, in terms of enacting legislations and setting up institutions to address issues related to small arms and light weapons.
He pledged the commitment of government in fulfilling its international and regional obligations.
Explaining the process, the Lead Weapon Marker, Captain Bockarie Aruna, stated that the marking of all weapons involves a systematic embossment of a unique identifiable information including the ECOWAS Logo, country unique code, security agency code, weapons serial number, counter and date of marking on all fire arms belonging to RSLAF, SLP and later civilians.
Capt. Aruna furthered that the information will then be forwarded to the Information Technology personnel who will then serially input them into the National Arms Register and the hard copies of the information will later be made available to Unit Commanders who will equally assist in the record keeping.
By Keifa M. Jaward
Wednesday April 02, 2014

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