NAIROBI, Kenya, March 7 – Kenya is now engaging its neighbors to crack down on the cross-border smuggling of illegal firearms that is fueling violent conflicts and crimes in the region.
According to Interior Principal Secretary Raymond Omolo, the government has now reached out to Ethiopia, South Sudan and Somalia with the intention of stepping up joint efforts against the proliferation of small arms and light weapons among border and nomadic communities.
“Due to their easy availability and low cost, these are the weapons of choice for terrorists, insurgents and criminal gangs in the Great Lakes region and the Horn of Africa,” he said.
The PS said Kenya’s main focus is to reduce the availability of these weapons, and eventually end years of inter-communal conflicts, robbery and cattle rustling.
Doctor. The resulting tyranny of preexisting trends, according to Omolo, partly constitutes the “high cost” the country has paid for illegal firearms, particularly in the Northern Rift, Northern Frontier County and parts of the Eastern Region.
He added: “Incredibly, these three sectors cumulatively account for nearly 30 percent of all small arms and light weapons in the country, a trend that has hindered progress toward social and economic development.”
Of great concern to Kenya is how criminals and unscrupulous profit-seekers continue to devise new strategies to covertly traffic and smuggle weapons into the country.
In response, Dr. Omolo reiterated the government’s commitment to establishing a robust border control system that would have next-level surveillance technology.
“Those of us in the security sector can attest to the complexity of these criminals’ methods and the breadth of their networks,” the PS said, “this move will help us monitor and respond to illegal crossings and movement of prohibited goods , Including dangerous weapons.
The PS was speaking during the opening ceremony of a three-day workshop organized by the Regional Center on Small Arms and Light Weapons (RECSA) in Nairobi, as the center seeks to strengthen cross-border arms control cooperation.
The workshop brings together various local, regional and international law enforcement agencies, and discussions will revolve around enhancing SALW marking, record-keeping and tracing regimes.
On his part, RECSA Executive Secretary, Lt. Gen. Badreleddin Ellamin Abdelgadir stressed the importance of enhancing cross-border capacities to combat illegal arms trafficking, which would directly complement national, regional and global instruments, among them The main one is the Nairobi Protocol. Prevention, control and abatement of SALW in the Great Lakes region, the Horn of Africa and bordering states.
“Development and implementation of border security and management strategies; efforts to trace and seize parts and components of arms and ammunition; enhanced stock management; and the fight against illegal manufacture of weapons are effective tools to disrupt the supply of illegal small arms and light weapons to unintended end-users,” General Abdelgadir said.
During the training, the representatives will campaign for better ways to strengthen border security and strengthen stakeholders’ understanding of area identification and tracking of weapons, with the ultimate objective of combating diversion into wrong hands.
The Kenya National Focal Point (KNFP) described the diversion as “loss, theft, leakage and proliferation” of weapons and stipulated efficient security of arms and ammunition stockpiles.
Through its representative, the agency said: “Systematic control of stockpiles is in keeping with the philosophy of ‘reasonable care’ and therefore states should adopt a proactive approach, rather than a reactive one, to ensure that weapons be accounted for and safeguarded to the highest standard.”
According to the Eastern Africa Police Chiefs Cooperation Organisation/Counter-Terrorism Center of Excellence (EAPCCO-CTCoE), which is one of the agencies represented at the workshop, the Kalashnikov rifle is among the most notorious weapons used by terrorists, bandits and armed gangsters. ( AK47), Colt M16, H&K G3 Rifle, PKM Machine Gun and RPG7.
“All these weapons have serial numbers and manufacturers can be easily traced if governments take this threat seriously,” said Gideon Kibunjah, deputy director.
Interpol, through its representative, confirmed the effectiveness of its I-24/7 global police communication system, which enables police around the world to share alerts, data and intelligence on various security issues.
The agency pledged to improve cooperation on international affairs and remain a committed partner in efforts to combat transnational organized crime.
Agencies involved in the training include: Germany’s Bonn International Center for Conversion (BICC), the African Union Commission (AUC), the Regional Economic Community and the International Conference on the Great Lakes (ICGLR).