Police urges public to hand in illegal firearms

Police has urged people who still posses illegal firearms not to dump them in public places, but instead surrender them to local authorities or to the nearest police station.

Police has urged people who still posses illegal firearms not to dump them in public places, but instead surrender them to local authorities or to the nearest police station.

Police Spokesperson, Supt. Eric Kayiranga, said, yesterday, that some people are surrendering the weapons by leaving them in the open, putting the public at risk of getting injured.

The appeal follows series of accidental explosions, in the Eastern and Western Provinces, and, most recent in Nyamirambo, Kigali City, where a grenade explosion left seven people with minor injuries.

Police, had earlier issued a seven-month ‘grace period’ for voluntarily surrendering of weapons, a date which expired in June last year, and for fear of punishment, some people still in possession of the arms are dumping them anywhere convenient.

According to the law, ‘any person who illegally uses a firearm, refuses to show a firearm or related documents to relevant authorities or who refuses to surrender the firearm to relevant authorities when required, shall be liable to a term of imprisonment of seven days to one year and a fine ranging between Rwf 50,000 and Rwf 250,000 or either of these penalties.’

However, the spokesperson said that no one will be punished for forwarding weapons.

“Though the grace period ended, those willing to surrender firearms now are not prosecuted,” Kayiranga said.

Over 760 illicit firearms were recovered  across the country between February and September last year.

By October 2008, over 31,000 small arms and light weapons had been destroyed countrywide following the signing of the Nairobi Protocol in May 2005 which brings together 11 member countries from the Great Lakes Region, the horn of Africa and bordering states, aimed at prevention, control, and reduction of small arms and light weapons in the sub-region.

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