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Govt pledges decisive action to halt flow of illicit weapons

18 July 2015, 08:50

Nairobi - The government will slap stiff penalties on individuals peddling illicit weapons and tighten border controls to prevent their influx from war-torn neighboring states, an official said.

Cabinet Secretary for Internal Security Joseph Nkaissery told a regional forum in Nairobi that the East African nation had already ratified global instruments to halt the flow of illegal weapons.

"The proliferation of small arms is a complex and multifaceted phenomenon that affects the lives of many citizens globally. In Kenya and the wider eastern African region, the influx of small and light weapons is a major security challenge," Nkaissery said.

Proliferation of small arms is to blame for tribal skirmishes and cattle rustling in Kenya's northern frontier districts.

The nation is surrounded by neighboring countries that for a long time experienced civil strife which immensely contributed to the influx of the illegal weapons into the hands of gangsters and cattle rustlers.

In rural northern Kenya, small arms have replaced traditional weapons in ethnic warfare over pasture, water and livestock.

The two-day meeting brought together senior government officials, security experts and development partners to discuss innovative strategies to eliminate the proliferation of small arms.

Read Also: Govt to license illicit arms in border areas

Nkaissery noted that Kenya has become an epicenter of small and light weapons thanks to conflicts in neighboring states and poor surveillance at the borders.

"The widespread influx of small arms is to blame for alarming crime levels in urban areas. It has fueled banditry economy through cattle rustling and ethnic conflicts in nomadic regions," said Nkaissery.

A survey conducted by Kenya's ministry of internal security revealed that an estimated 700,000 lethal weapons were in the wrong hands.

Nkaissery regretted that terrorist groups had acquired sophisticated weapons to cause havoc in the country.

"The war against proliferation of small arms and light weapons is a key priority by the government in order to achieve peace, stability and development in the country," Nkaissery told regional security experts.

Small arms availability and misuse have been a problem in the east Africa nation for decades but the 2007 post election violence increased the urgency of small arms reduction efforts.

While efforts have been made, law enforcement efforts to control the proliferation of the illicit weapons still face considerable challenges.

Nkaissery said Kenya has ratified international treaties that root for punitive measures to halt the flow of illegal weapons.

He added that besides ratifying the International Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), Kenya had established internal safeguards to limit ownership of lethal weapons among civilians.

"Kenya has a high level stockpile management regulatory mechanism and has not experienced major loss of government arms and ammunition to illegal groups or accidental explosions," he noted.

Nkaissery added the Kenyan government has partnered with regional think tanks to develop innovative strategies to deal with the challenge of illicit weapons, terrorism and banditry.

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- Xinhua


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