Rwamagana - Police, army and security organs have started marking all small and light arms in their possession, in line with the UN Action Programme on Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW).
This was revealed yesterday by Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Vianney Nshimiyimana, the National Coordinator of this programme, during a meeting that brought together members of district taskforces on small arms within the Eastern Province.
“We are implementing the UN Action Programme on SALW… the purpose here is to identify arms that are legally owned from those that are illegally possessed by individuals or groups,” Nshimiyimana said.
According to the police official, the exercise is meant to reverse the consequences of the excessive accumulation and uncontrolled spread of SALWs.
He added that Rwanda set up the National Action Plan three years ago.
He further noted that though the existing law on illegal arms prescribes punitive measures on persons found culpable, article 71 of the same law protects individuals who voluntarily surrender such weapons.
“There is an amnesty in place. But it will soon expire, so please tell the population to surrender weapons in time.”
Jean Marie Muhisemo a member of National Focal Point for the programme, said that individuals can be given guns, provided they fulfil requirements.
“Some of the requirements to get license to own a gun include being mentally upright, able to control temper, clean criminal record and above 21 years of age,” he said.
Rose Mukarutabana, a women representative in Bugesera district questioned effectiveness of giving licences to civilians to own guns.
“Suppose a licensed person wrongfully uses the bullets, how do the police know? An individual may also use the cover to engage in criminal activities.”
Police officials however, rubbed off the fears saying that each licensed person will account for every single bullet used.
The meeting attracted among others; the police and army officers and various leaders in the Eastern Province.