By Bampia Bundu
The Director of the Sierra Leone Association on Small Arms (SLANSA), Mrs. Florella Hazeley, has said that the Global Week of Action against Gun Violence is a worldwide initiative that is coordinated by the International Action Network on Small Arms (IANSA) which lasts from June 11 to 17.
Addressing newsmen at the association’s office at State Avenue in Freetown yesterday, she stated that the major objective of the action week is to highlight the work of civil society at the national, regional and international levels to prevent gun violence and to address its deadly consequences.
She explained that from Monday, 11th June 2012 to Sunday, June 17, civil society organizations around the world will undertake a range of actions to call on states to negotiate a legally binding arms trade treaty that will include strong measures to combat gun violence and to take specific measures to strengthen the United Nations Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trafficking of Small Arms and Light Weapons in All its Aspects.
She revealed that activities being organized include public events, media outreaches, rallies, lobbying and advocacy towards Governments, all of which seek to engage more people in the global movement against gun violence.
She said the week is the key concerted campaign to raise awareness of the problem of gun availability and the need to prevent gun violence.
“Many national networks of IANSA members use the opportunity to promote their specific strategies for reducing armed violence. In this vain, the Sierra Leone National Commission on Small Arms (SLeNCSA) and the Sierra Leone Action on Gun Violence review the progress made so for in the enactment of the new Arms and Ammunition Bill,” she disclosed.
She also stated that illegal guns can become dreadful force multipliers as they make it possible for pirates to capture the largest ships on the high seas, for drug lords to randomly kill law enforcers or anyone else interfering with their illegal businesses, for bandits to terrorize people and inmates to injure or kill each other.
In her statement the United Nations Secretary General’s High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, Mrs. Angela Kane revealed that all over the world, uncontrolled small arms in circulation from a massive threat to safety, property, stability and development.
‘’This year, we stand together on the eve of an historic opportunity to make people safer from gun violence. We are just three weeks away from a once in a lifetime constellation of global events that will see the negotiations of the first ever International Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), followed by the five year Review Conference on the UN Programme of Action on Small Arms’’ said Mr. Oliver Sprague, Chair of the IANSA Board.
‘’All Governments taking part in these negotiations must seize this opportunity to do justice to the millions of people who continue to suffer the terrible consequences of gun violence. They must set the highest possible standards in their deliberations and not succumb to the indecisive action, empty promises and shallow commitments that too often characterize these international meetings. Sierra Leone is in support of the ATT and to include SALW and its ammunition in its scope. This is important because these were the weapons used to fight in the eleven years civil war”, he stressed.
He concluded that during this week IANSA’s message is simple, namely that Governments must hold firm and take decisive action to stop the proliferation and misuse of small arms and light weapons as this year, more than any other, Governments have the opportunity to agree binding measures to reduce global gun violence and stop small arms ending up in the hands of those that will use them to commit atrocities.