Rescue Alternatives Liberia (RAL) in collaboration with the Liberia National Commission on Small Arms (LiNCSA) has embarked on a one month county forums aimed at popularizing the ‘Firearms and Ammunition Control Act.
The one month forums kicked off in Bensonville, Montserrado County with Sinoe and Rivercess counties to follow on June 16 and 19, 2017. The forums are implemented by Rescue Alternatives Liberia (RAL) in collaboration with the Liberia National Commission on Small Arms (LiNCSA) funded by UNMIL.
Participants for the forum were drawn from various communities, CSOs, local and national level. Other participants include chiefs, students, UNMIL, local security, farmers, transport and motorcycle union, women, youth, LANSA county superintendent among others.
The Liberia Firearms and Ammunition Control Act of 2015 is the legal framework for arms control in Liberia. The law seeks to reduce and prevent violence caused by the proliferation of illicit small arms and light weapons, their ammunitions and other related materials.
Following numerous consultations by national and international stakeholders, the Firearms and Ammunitions Control Act was passed by the National Legislature on May 12, 2016 and signed into law by the President of the Republic of Liberia on July 11, 2016. It has since been printed into handbills and distributed to stakeholders.
However, key provisions on ownership are highlighted in the Act. The Act says only authorized security personnel are allowed to carry guns; private security people are not allowed to own or carry guns at anytime. Civilians are not allowed to own or carry guns except for single barrel rifles used solely for the purpose of hunting.
The law also states that hunters must register their single barrel rifles with the Liberian Government and get an owner’s license issued by the Liberia National Police in collaboration with the National Commission on Small Arms.
Possession of arms by unauthorized persons is a crime under the law and punishable by either a fine or jail sentence according to the Law.
Speaking at the Bensonville forum, the Coordinator of LiNSCA, Josiah F. Joekai told the participants that the forum is intended to deepen the understanding of Liberians about the Act. Joekai also stressed the significant of decentralizing the awareness on the law.
According to him, the awareness is taking place in ten of the fifteen counties in the country. He lauded the government for ensuring the availability of the law.
“The forum is intended to deepen the understanding of the local leaders on the stipulations of the Act. The successful implementation of this Act will depend on your understanding in terms of your roles, your rights and responsibilities as prescribed by the Act,” he said.
Unless other laws that are yet to take root in the country, Joekai told the gathering that the Firearms and Ammunitions Control Act is different in the country since its inception as evidenced by the county forums.
“The law is meant to guide you and protect you. It brings the critical component of our national security. You all know what small arms did to us. We lost lives and it becomes a critical point for all of us,” he added.
For his part, Sekou Camara, the Security Sector Reform Officer for Political-Rule of Law Pillar of UNMIL told the participants that UNMIL remains committed to ensuring security of the state. Camara reminded participants to reflect on the consequences of arms in the country, saying it cannot be overemphasized.
At the same time, the Program Coordinator of Rescue Alternatives Liberia (RAL) Sam M. Nimley, the implementing partner told the participants to know that the effects of arms has nothing to do with understanding English or not.
According to him, arms scattered everyone in the country during the bloody civil conflict in the country. Nimely urged the participants to serve as ambassadors in their respective communities aim at making Liberia a safe place to live.
Meanwhile, the exuberant participants expressed their willingness to serve as ambassadors in spreading the message and lauded the Liberian Government and partners for the law. They were drilled through presentations on the Act.
The National Campaign to popularize the Liberia Firearms and Ammunitions Control Act is implemented by Rescue Alternatives Liberia (RAL) in collaboration with the Liberia National Commission on Small Arms (LiNCSA) with funding from UNMIL