In commemoration of the Global Week of Action against Gun Violence, from June 5th to 12th, the Sierra Leone Action Network on Small Arms (SLANSA), a civil society organisation that campaign against the proliferation of small arms and light weapons on Wednesday 7th June 2017 launched a survey report on blacksmiths in seven districts across the country at the YWCA New Hall in Freetown.
Addressing journalists, Coordinator for SLANSA, Madam Adenike Cole said they as a civil society organisation recognises the efforts made by the Sierra Leone Small Arms Commission in ensuring that all arms must be registered, and as such we now encourage blacksmiths to find alternatives from producing illicit firearms as well as sensitise those who wish to continue to produce firearms to register them with the commission.
|SLANSA Coordinator, Adenike Cole presenting the report to press men
Madam Cole continued that the United Nations Trust Facility Supporting Corporation on Arms and Regulations provided SLANSA with funds to engage blacksmiths for a period of two years. She went on that the initial stage of the project is to conduct a survey, which report is being published today. The objectives of the research are to identify gunsmiths who do not want to stop producing fire arms as well as encouraging them to register with the Small Arms Commission. Furthermore, to ascertain whether the blacksmiths have markets, workshops, materials, and adequate modern tools do so their work effectively.
The SLANSA Coordinator added that the survey was conducted in Kenema, Kailahun, Kono, Bo, Bombali, Moyamba and Western Area Urban and Rural Districts.
Shen further highlighted key findings of the report as; gender disparity in targeted blacksmiths (majority of blacksmith are men), majority of targeted blacksmiths are very active in the trade. Blacksmiths produce guns mostly for commercial purposes as well as for security reasons, willingness of blacksmiths to stop producing guns, should they have an skill. The survey also revealed that 50 percent of blacksmiths complained of not having market for their goods produced. “This could be a threat if the production of arms seems to be more lucrative. This might lead to its proliferation which will be threat to peace in our country” said Adenike Cole.
Among key recommendations proffered are but not limited to; provision of improved tools to manufacture, material and trainings as the current tools used are modern but manually operated. Secondly, to provide training opportunities for alternative livelihood skills, third; to establish a stronger link between gunsmiths and the small arms commission, particularly on the aspects of follow ups, forth, putting a ban on the sale of scrap metals which are required for blacksmiths to produce guns. Fifth, formation of a national blacksmiths organisation that will seek the welfare of those practising the trade.
Madam Cole ended by saying that SLANSA therefore uses the opportunity to add their voice to that of Ms. Izumi Nakamitsu’s High Representative for Disarmament Affairs of the United Nations; to say NO to the use of gun violence in a bid to ensure our communities achieve the well-deserved sustainable peace and development. Saying the Global Week of Action against Gun Violence, is an opportunity to remind the world about the stark reality. However, it is also an opportunity to remember how much can be achieved through collective action.
© Copyright by Awareness Times
Newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone.