The Rwanda National Police (RNP) yesterday received an electronic marking machine to help them register all firearms belonging to the force.
The machine worth US $15,000, was givento them by the Regional Centre on Small Arms (RECSA) in the spirit of minimizing the number of illicit arms in the Great Lakes and Horn of Africa.
The state-of-the-art- MC 2000 electronic marking machine was handed over to the Internal Security Minister, Musa Fazil Harerimana, by RECSA’s Executive Secretary, Dr. Francis K. Sang.
The country’s police force has recently embarked on a campaign of registering and marking all firearms in the country except those in the hands of the Rwanda Defence Force (RDF).
“There is no gun whatsoever that shouldn’t be marked. Marking electronically is certainly going to be a lot faster and it will be very easy for us to trace arms,” Mary Gahonzire, the acting Commissioner General of Police said at the handover ceremony at RNP headquarters in Kacyiru.
The head of RNP’s Firearms Registry, Chief Supt. Joel Ndahiro, had earlier told journalists that only 3 percent of arms controlled by police have been marked while the institution can trace 90 percent of arms it is supposed to manage.
“Marking of firearms will assist in tracing the movement of arms across national boundaries and provide necessary information to minimise proliferation of small arms and control crime in the region,” Ndahiro said.
RECSA is an inter-governmental organisation that groups together twelve countries in the Great Lakes Region and the Horn of Africa aimed at ending regional conflicts through disarmament.
Dr. Sang said the body is currently equipping all its member countries with machines to mark firearms as part of its mission to coordinate action against the proliferation of small arms and light weapons in the region.
He said that efforts to change the mindset of people in the region against keeping guns but instead turn to economic activities is what the regional centre on small arms is doing.
“We need to change the mentalities of the people to know that carrying a gun is not everything,” he said.
Police sources revealed that among the people to be disarmed in Rwanda include Ex-FAR combatants and former members of the Interahamwe militia, some demobilised soldiers, and some officials who still keep guns claiming insecurity in regions where they work.