LiNCSA, Partners Hold Stakeholders Session -To Endorse Draft Communications Strategy

The Liberia National Commission on Small Arms(LINCSA) with support from its partners, the Economic Community of West African States(ECOWAS), the European Union(EU), the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the Germany-ECOWAS Cooperation commenced a 3 day Stakeholders’ Validation Sessions in Ganta City, Nimba County yesterday, Tuesday, April 5, 2022 to endorse the draft communication strategy developed by a team of Liberian Development consultants, Messrs. John Jallah and Edwin Zoludua to ensure that it is an intrinsic part of its working practices, finding  more creative  and effective  ways to reach all stakeholders concerning the work of the commission.

In his statement to the participants, the Chairman of LINCSA, Atty Teklo Maxwell Grisby II thanked partners of LINCSA for the support given the commission in hosting the workshop and did a brief overview of the various Acts and laws on the rights of ownership of firearms in the county since Independence and noted that the Executive Order of 2006 placed a restrictive order prohibiting the holding or owning of firearms by any citizens of Liberia outside the legally recognized security apparatus in the country.

Atty Grisby said the ACT of 2015 which created the Liberian National Commission for Small Arms mandated the institution and upgraded the Executive Order of 2006 to address the issue of the holding and ownership of firearms in the country. He said through additional regional instruments has been obliged to obey the control and regulation of firearms  like the ECOWAS Convention of 2009 which placed placed a moratorium on the importation of firearms in the subregion and countries intending to import firearms have to seek the consent of countries of ECOWAS before carrying out such transaction.

The young administrator  said despite the laws forbidding the holding of firearms by private citizens, it has not been possible to completely stop the situation because it is somehow accepted because of tradition and the fact that in the rural areas hunting has been accepted as an alternative means for livelihood thus making it impossible to enforce the measure. He said additional layers have been added to accommodate such exceptional cases that have to do with the tradition of the people being adhered to and sourcing for alternative sources of livelihood by rural dwellers.

Delivering the keynote address at the program , Madam Eva Flomo Radio Coordinator of ECOWAS Radio said that taking its cue from the successes recorded by the United Nations radio in Liberia-UNMIL during its 14 years of service in peacekeeping, in a country ravaged by 14 years of civil strife, which led to massive displacement internally and externally, ECOWAS radio is committed to covering activities on cross border trade, reintegration, peace, security, good governance, economic growth and infrastructural development, human resource capacity building and development, while at the same time bringing to light issues related to crime and criminality, terrorism and jihadist attacks, barbarism of Fulani herdsmen, gangster raids and harassment of community dwellers who are forced to flee their homes on a daily basis.

“Aside from these stories on power grabs, we also read about the triggered effects of families disintegrated as a result of armed gangs raiding towns, villages and cities and forcefully taking people away hostage for either ransom or as sex slaves. Where do these weapons come from? Are they legally traded? Are they fully registered? How many of these weapons are in the hands of criminals parading Zamfara in Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger? Who makes efforts to chase or arrest them when they usually come in large numbers and sometimes under the cover of darkness to kidnap innocent citizens and put families in disarray?”, the veteran radio personality said.

Touching on the Liberian situation, she said the Liberian border towns and villages along the Ivorian enclave are occupied with Burkinabe farmers who are claiming ownership of the land they illegally occupy. She said when inquiries are made, they chase actual citizens away with machetes and single barrel guns, causing the people to live in fear, adding that this is a result of illicit weapons trade and that the media must dig deeper and bring out the hidden stories.

She noted that the support of the 11th European Development Fund-EDF, as an integral part of the regional Indicative Program on EU Aid to the region, is such a great opportunity that the Liberia National Commission on Small Arms-LiNCSA has received to help it join forces in combating organized crime groups involved in illicit trafficking.

“It is also worth noting, that the three-year project, managed by the UNDP, covers seven (7) countries including Liberia, with the ultimate goal to strengthen regional governance frameworks in combating transnational organized crimes and trafficking and to enhance the capacity of state agencies specialized in combating these threats.

“As the project will rely on high level and community awareness and sensitization on the dangers associated with the illicit proliferation and trafficking of small arms and armed violence, among others, it behooves media practitioners and other stakeholders who are to assist in the validation of the Commission’s Communication Strategy, to ensure that the policy document is well understood and streamline policy actions that will help to address the dangers associated with the proliferation and illicit manufacturing, use, distribution, possession, trade, transfer and trafficking of small arms, ammunition, and light weapons”, she said..

In conclusion she said it was not just enough to hear and talk about it but to bring national government institutions with specific mandates, to address the concerns expressed and hope that the Communication strategy guides stakeholders how to proceed with the validation process, dissect the document keenly and make the necessary inputs on arms control during the 3 day workshop taking place in Ganta City, Nimba county.

The Communication strategy developed by the two young Liberian Development Consultants, is intended to propagate the policies and programs through internal and external engagements aimed at explaining the work, mandate, vision, core values achievements, challenges as well as success stories and to generate feed backs  for improvements.

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