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Sierra Leone News: SLeNCSA launches ATT National Assessment report… Calls for Executive Order to ban conventional arms trade

Posted 11/23/2018

The Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) is the first global and legally binding instrument to regulate the transfer of conventional arms, which was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 2nd April 2013 and formally came into force on 24th December 2014. The Sierra Leone National Commission on Small Arms (SLeNCSA) was actively involved in the process leading to the signing and ratification of the ATT by Sierra Leone on 25th September 2013 and 12th August 2014, respectively. The country’s ATT National Assessment Report, which was launched on Wednesday 22nd November, 2018, identified the limitations in relevant national laws, regulations, structures, policies and practices as a hindrance towards full compliance with its obligations.

Launching the report the Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs, Lahai Lawrence Leema, committed to informing President Julius Maada Bio on the urgency and importance to release an Executive Order to ban the importation and exportation of conventional arms and ammunition until the relevant amendment is made. The report recommended that Sierra Leone should establish an Executive Order banning the export or import of any conventional arms not covered by the Arms and Ammunition Act without the explicitly written authority of the President until such time as appropriate legislation is in force. “It is now our responsibility to take on board the necessary amendments required by the Commissions Act and the Arms and Ammunition Act and other legislations or regulations through Cabinet and Parliament,” he said. Furthermore, he assured the Commission that the process will receive his Ministry’s top most priority and attention with the enforcement of ATT, “we should ensure that this treaty is not violated in any way within our borders, before our national laws are amended and given the teeth to bite potential violators,” said Deputy Minister Leema. The country’s Arms and Ammunition Act is limited to the transfer of only small arms and light weapons and their ammunition until the ATT is incorporated into the national laws there is no section under it in which a violator of any section of the ATT within Sierra Leone could be charged and prosecuted. Commissioner of SLeNCSA, Brig. Gen. Rtd. Tamba R. Allieu, gave a background to the national assessment report, citing that because the country cannot fully comply with the treaty due to limitations in the relevant national legislations and regulations the SLeNCSA partnered with SaferWorld. SaferWorld is a UK-based international NGO that works with countries to prevent arms violence and promote human security accessed funding from the Voluntary Trust Fund of the Arms Trade Treaty to conduct a national assessment of Sierra Leone’s scope of SLeNCSA and the compliance gaps. The Commissioner said that even with all the legal challenges the country is committed to the ATT, as they have honoured all reporting obligations, adding that, out of the 99 member states, Sierra Leone has consistently been amongst the 50 countries that have reported annually. The report recommended that the scope of SLeNCSA be expanded to include all conventional arms, which in effect mean that the SLeNCSA Act of 2010 will need to be amended and the Commission re-named the Sierra Leone National Commission on Arms (SLeNCA). Additionally, the phrase ‘small arms and light weapons’ in both the SLeNCSA Act of 2010 and the Arms and Ammunition Act of 2012 be replaced by terminology more suited to the scope of the ATT and the new mandate of the Commission. “With the amendment of the said Acts, the country would be legally positioned to fully implement the ATT, thereby having full authority to prosecute violators of the provisions of the treaty” he said.


By Zainab Iyamide Joaque for AWOKO