Mr Ambrose Dery, the Minister of Interior has called on the Economic Commission of West African States (ECOWAS) to develop innovative ways to curb transnational and organised crime within the region.
“We need to introduce modern technological devices in our fight against the constantly involving crimes committed by the use of Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW)”, he said.
The Minister said the porous nature of borders in West Africa had continued to facilitate cross-border crimes and instability in the region, which demanded urgent actions.
The Minister made the call on Wednesday at the Coordination Meeting of National Commissions on Small Arms in the ECOWAS region.
The meeting, hosted by Ghana, is to review activities for the effective implementation of the Convention of Small Arms and Light Weapons within the region.
The European Union and the government of Germany have supported ECOWAS Commission with the resources for the implementation of West African Response to Organised Crime — trafficking within the framework of the 11th EDF.
Mr Dery said the security landscape within the Region had changed significantly from hate speeches, political vigilantism to new forms of threats characterised by terrorism, insurgency, maritime insecurity, cybercrimes, rising levels of violent extremism, and transnational organized crimes.
“These indicate how the control and regulation of our cross-border activities are essential for ensuring peace and stability and for promoting the important political and socio-economic activities needed to integrate our West African economies.” he said.
The Minister said ECOWAS must strengthen its regulatory and control measures to prevent weapons from going into the hands of organized criminal networks, insurgents, and non-state actors to inflict pain on the civilian population, thereby, endangering peace and security.
“We need to evaluate how well we have marked our weapons, kept the records and how well we have integrated the records into an ECOWAS database for effective tracing, which are stated in the ECOWAS Convention on Small Arms.” he said.
The ECOWAS Commissions Commissioner of Political Affairs, Peace and Security, General Francis A. Behanzin, in a speech read for him said the Commission had instituted weapons marking practices averting incidences of diversions, theft, and mismanagement of officials.
He said the ECOWAS Model Law Harmonization Framework had been adopted by government experts and was in use by member states for streamlining the implementation of the bloc’s Convention on SALW and the Arms Trade Treaty.
Dr Angela Lusigi, the Resident Representative of the United Nations Development Programme said her outfit was committed to working to reduce the proliferation of small arms and light weapons in the region.
Professor Paul Frimpong -Manso, the Board Chairman of the National Commission on Small Arms and Light Weapons called for collaboration to adopt proactive measures to deepen the peace and stability in the region.