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Posted 10/15/2018

The workshop, which brought together representatives from relevant Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), took place at the Freetown Golf Club on the 25th September 2018.  The MDAs represented included Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Ministry of Defence, National Revenue Authority, Public Sector Reform Unit, Office of National Security, Sierra Leone Police, House of Parliament, Sierra Leone Action Network on Small Arms and Sierra Leone National Commission on Small Arms (SLeNCSA).

The workshop was chaired by the Deputy Commissioner of SLeNCSA, Col. (Rtd.) Saa Anthony Sinah.  He welcomed all present and briefed them about the purpose of the workshop. He informed them that SLeNCSA was established in 2010 by an Act of Parliament, in compliance with the ECOWAS Convention on Small Arms and Light Weapons Their Ammunition and Other Related Materials.  Its mandate, he went on, is to control the proliferation and illicit circulation of Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW) within the borders of Sierra Leone.  He also mentioned that Sierra Leone is a member state of the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), which she signed up to on the 25th September 2013, ratified it on the 12th August 2014 and came into force on the 24th December 2014.  He explained that unlike the ECOWAS Convention which deals only with Small Arms Light Weapon, the ATT deals with the international transfer of conventional arms. He informed the group that with SLeNCSA’s limited scope on SALW, Sierra Leone cannot implement the ATT.

The Chairman continued by saying that with support from the Voluntary Trust Fund of the ATT, SLeNCSA is working with Saferworld to assess Sierra Leone’s legislations to ensure ATT compliance.  He furthered that consultative meetings were held last year with relevant MDAs and later had a meeting at the Freetown Golf Club, where various ideas were gathered.  He concluded by saying that the purpose of the workshop was to discuss the report and to gather feedback from all present.  He encouraged them to make valuable inputs during the discussions.

Participants introduced themselves.

Mr. Roy Isbister of Saferworld presented the assessment report, but focused mainly on the recommendations. He divided them into four broad groups as follows:

  1. Legislations;
  2. Procedures and processes;
  3. Cooperation and cross border issues; and
  4. Border management.

Discussions were held after presentation of each group of recommendations. The following decisions were unanimously taken during the discussions:

  1. That the Arms and Ammunition Act (AAA) be used as the primary legislative instrument through which the ATT is enacted and amend it accordingly as a matter of urgency.
  2. That until the AAA is amended, the President should establish an Executive Order banning the export or import of any conventional arms not covered by the act without the explicit written authority of the President.
  3. That there is no need to enact another law, or to set up another institution for the implementation of the ATT. Rather, the scope of the SLeNCSA and Arms and Ammunition Acts should be expanded to cover conventional arms, meaning that SLeNCSA would be renamed Sierra Leone National Commission on Arms (SLeNCA).
  4. That a Licensing Committee be established with the responsibility of assessing applications for the transfer of conventional arms and make recommendations to Government. The MDAs in the Licensing Committee should include the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Ministry of Internal Affairs, Office of National Security, Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Defence, National Revenue Authority, House of Parliament and SLeNCSA.
  5. That an Oversight Committee be set up to support the drafters of the amendment bill.
  6. That Sierra Leone should not be restricted only to the use of air and sea entry points for arms transfer, but under special consideration or dispensation, properly monitored official land entry points may be used. 
  7. That Sierra Leone should continue to meet its reporting obligations as has always been the case.

In his closing remarks, the Chairman Col. (Rtd.) Saa Anthony Sinah, thanked participants for attending the workshop and for their invaluable contributions during the discussions. He requested them to submit any further suggestions they may have to SLeNCSA. He expressed disappointment over the absence of the Ministries of Internal Affairs and Justice as they have a very crucial role to play in the process.  He, however, indicated that one-to-one consultations would be held with them in order to get their own feedback. He also thanked Roy Isbister for preparing and presenting the assessment report.