“LINCSA is prepared to curb Proliferation of Small Arms” -Holds Stakeholders Technical Review Session

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By Stephen G. Fellajuah

The Chairman of Liberia National Commission on Small Arms (LINCSA), Attorney Teklo Maxwell Grisby, II, has disclosed that the institution is working along with members of the state security agencies to curb the proliferation of small arms across the country. Attorney Grigsby, II, said he is aware that there continues to be proliferation of small arms around the country, but stressed that policy frameworks are being worked out to reduce the number of illicit small arms in Liberia.

He said the policy and legal frameworks will be enforced by state security agencies and will also allow for criminal prosecution of those in possession of illegal firearms and the importers or exporters of arms into the country.

Atty. Grigsby spoke briefly in an interview yesterday at the Monrovia City Hall shortly after the close of a zoom meeting organized by the National Commission on Small Arms (LINCSA) in collaboration with the Expertise France, with support from the European Union (EU) for Stakeholders Technical Review Session for the proposed amendments of the Firearms and Ammunition Control Act and the Act creating the Small Arms Commission.

“As we create this policy environment, the challenge has been for state security agencies to enforce the law that have been limiting them due to lack of capacity or lack of funding. We are now introducing a trust fund by which we will bank roll the process by supporting state security to enforce the law. The trust fund is being worked out by partners”, he further disclosed.

As a country that has been leading an effort to domesticate the Arms Trade and Transfer Treaty, Grigsby said since 2014 Liberia has been an active player in the conversation leading to having laws that will regulate conventional arms, adding that since 2020, the Commission has two drafts of the laws to amend the Small Arms Commission Act.

Because Small Arms do not include Conventional Arms, he accentuated that the limitation of the ECOWAS convention creates the condition by which we have to amend our country’s laws.

He added that there are two drafts – firstly the law to amend the Liberia National Commission on Small Arms Act and secondly  the Firearms and Ammunition Control Act which, he said, is that the law domesticating the ECOWAS convention and only regulates small arms and light weapons.

“If the ATT [arm trade and transfer] treaty is talking about conventional arms and we want to regulate conventional arms, we have to as well amend the Small Arms and Ammunition Control Act”, he further said. He noted that after consultation with members of the security sector, the Legislature, civil society and friendly embassies, LINCSA was able to come up with a proposal for the amendments of the Act creating the Commission and the Small Arms and Ammunition Control Act.

However, against the backdrop that Liberia is a leading member of the ECOWAS Commission Program on Arms Control, the commission shared the proposals with ECOWAS and Expertise France through the European Union (EU) which has provided technical support for the development of the instruments.

“Today’s conversation was about looking at Liberia’s amendments of the firearms laws as well as amendment to the Commission’s Act. Liberia might just be the first country in West Africa to domesticate the ATT which will have a separate law that fully forces Liberia into compliance with conventional laws”, he explained.

He continued, “With the amendments of the two ACTS, one act that created the Small Arms Commission of Liberia, there will be one commission on arms; that institution will regulate all conventional arms which includes small arms and light weapons. The second thing is that we are working out a technical review board, trust fund for arms control institute, and the requirement to train security and firearms users.”

Atty. Grigsby averred that the Legislature has requested that the amendments be done in a specific format – a simplified version of the Amended Act which will be sent to them for ratification. He, at the same time, noted that the Liberian Legislature has ratified the Arms Trade and Transfer Treaty.

By this ratification, the Legislature has said that Liberia is committing the country to implementing the different provisions of the ATT, but added that the LINCSA hopes the Legislature can go beyond from just ratifying to domesticating the laws.

The Stakeholders Technical Review Session of Proposed Amendments to the Firearms and Ammunition Control Act and the Act Creating the Small Arms Commission Zoom Meeting brought together regional countries, national stakeholders and partners to discuss the commonality of the provisions of the proposed amended acts to suit the international convention.

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