The Executive Secretary of the Regional Centre on Small Arms (RECSA), Dr. Francis K. Sang, has called upon all countries within the region to come up with more mechanisms and strategies to fight against the proliferation of illicit small arms and light weapons.
RECSA is an intergovernmental body based in Nairobi, Kenya, bringing together 13 countries from the Great Lakes and Horn of Africa region.
All member states that subscribe to the centre, including Rwanda, are signatories to the Nairobi protocol for the prevention, control and reduction of small arms and light weapons in the region.
“RECSA’s mission is to coordinate actions against proliferation of small arms and light weapons with the aim of making the region safe for its citizens,” said Sang, after his meeting with the Minister of Internal Security Musa Fazil Harerimana.
Sang was in the country to attend the just concluded East African Police Chiefs Cooperation Organisation meeting which ended in Kigali on Wednesday.
He said that without regional coordination and cooperation in eliminating small arms and light weapons, peace, stability and development would remain a dream in the entire region.
Sang noted that proliferation of small arms affects national, regional and international security, reiterating that the use of arms is a hindrance to conflict prevention, peace building and sustainable development.
According to the official, RECSA has registered tremendous achievements in the fight against small arms and light weapons within member countries.
He said that all the 13 member states had come up with various programs to check the circulation of small arms and light weapons.
The ongoing process, according to Sang, is the regional harmonisation of legislations on small arms to create a more stringent legal framework to reduce the problem of small arms.
“Rwanda is one of the first countries which have actually harmonised its legislations on arms in line with the Nairobi protocol, and I encourage other countries to follow suit, because this will enable us to achieve our goals on time,” Dr Sang added.
The centre has also carried out various public awareness campaigns on small arms and light weapons and education aimed at changing the public’s mindset on the use of firearms.
Approximately three million people have so far been killed using small arms in Sub-Saharan Africa.
The 2004 Geneva small arms survey indicates that there are 30 million small arms and light weapons currently circulating in the Sub-Saharan Africa with 79 percent of these believed to be in the hands of civilians.
RECSA member states include Burundi, DRC, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Kenya, Rwanda, Seychelles, Somalia, Sudan and Tanzania.