The Sierra Leone Action Network on Small Arms (SLANSA) has urged the government of Sierra Leone to support the UN Firearms Protocol meeting in New York on June 18 this year.
SLANSA Coordinator Florella Hazeley told reporters yesterday that the protocol is the only binding global agreement on firearms which are too easily smuggled across national borders.
She added “we urge the government to review and harmonize laws on firearms and domestic violence and domestic violence abusers must not be permitted access to guns”.
The Coordinator also urged the government to promote a strong international arms trade treaty when negotiations start at the UN in July.
Mrs. Hazelley demanded that international aid donors provide specific funds for preventing armed violence which continues to undermine the Millenium Development Goals (MDGs). Gun violence she said is a disaster affecting every country and urged government to take action locally and internationally to help stop this pointless waste of lives and resources.
She reiterated that every minute two people are injured by a gun and someone is killed by gunshot every 90 seconds. Mrs. Hazeley also said most of this violence is preventable by reducing the supply and the demand for weapons. The Coordinator averred that weapons are the only products specifically designed to kill and injure adding that domestic violence abusers must not be allowed to access gun. She stated that Sierra Leone needs a treaty that is bullet proof Arms Trade Treaty that will stop arms getting into the hands of people likely to commit war crimes, grave human rights abuses, terrorist attacks, or use arms to exacerbate armed violence and crime, gender based violence and poverty.
Mrs. Hazeley maintained that a bullet-proof Arms Trade Treaty must control all arms and ammunition and their parts, all those involved in their export and import; end the secrecy and corruption in the global arms trade; must be enforced and policed and hold governments to account. In Sierra Leone during this week and the rest of the month of May, SLANSA, will be meeting with victims of domestic violence, the Family Support Unit and female members of Parliament.
SLANSA is a member of the International Action Network on Small Arms (IANSA), which is pressing for anyone with a history of domestic abuse to be denied access to a firearm, and have their license revoked.
SLANSA is therefore calling on other civil society members to join them to collect information from their communities and help develop a comprehensive solution to the problem of armed domestic violence and ensure that women are safe in their own homes.
By Abibatu Kamara