Weapons in state armouries to be marked: Woyongo

BY: Emmanuel Ebo Hawkson
Mr Mark Woyongo (left), the Minister of the Interior, in a chat with Ms Mariann Mezey, Senior Counsellor, Hungarian Trade Licensing Office.

The security agencies have initiated a programme to mark all weapons in state armouries to prevent them from being diverted to unauthorised persons.

The initiative is also meant to facilitate the tracing of weapons which are removed from the armouries without the requisite authorisation.

The Minister of the Interior, Mr Mark Woyongo, announced these measures at the opening session of a two-day workshop on the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) at Dodowa yesterday.

The initiative comes on the heels of the confiscation of more than one million ammunition and 60 weapons from civilians by the police in different parts of the country in December 2015.

The weapons were meant to be used by only the security agencies but found their way to civilians.

The workshop, organised by the Ghana National Commission on Small Arms and Light Weapons (GNCSALW), with support from the European Union’s ATT outreach project, is meant to train members of the various security agencies on how to effectively implement the treaty.

It is being attended by officers from the Ghana Armed Forces (GAF), the Ghana Police Service, the Ghana Immigration Service, the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) and the Bureau of National Investigations (BNI).

The ATT is meant to regulate the international trade in conventional weapons for the purpose of promoting international and regional peace, security and stability in order to reduce human suffering.

It was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on April 2, 2013 and came into force on December 24, 2014, after 50 countries had ratified it.

Ghana was one of the countries that signed the adoption of the treaty in April 2013 but Parliament ratified the agreement on July 24, 2015, making the country the 79th to ratify the protocol.

Under the terms of the treaty, weapons such as battle tanks, combat aircraft, warships, missiles and missile launchers, small arms and light weapons, attack helicopters, armoured combat vehicles and large-calibre artillery systems cannot be imported or exported by countries if they will be used to commit crime against humanity, genocide, terrorism or undermine peace and security in general.

Effective implementation
Mr Woyongo stated that many developing countries, including Ghana, lacked the capacity and systems to effectively implement the treaty, as such efforts meant to address those challenges would ultimately boost the implementation process.

“Ghana’s quest to implement the ATT is aimed at curbing the incidents of arms getting into the wrong hands. We, therefore, have to remove any loopholes in the implementation process in order to establish the highest possible common international standards for regulating the international trade in conventional arms in Ghana and the sub-region,” he added.

The Chairman of GNCSALW, Brigadier General Francis Agyemfra, said the EU ATT outreach programme would not only help to build the capacity of the security agencies to effectively implement the treaty, but it would also help the country to build effective control systems that are crucial in the implementation process.