Heads of Africa police chiefs’ organisation are meeting in Kigali to look for ways of fighting against the proliferation of firearms and explosive materials on the continent.
The two-day meeting brings together representatives from Eastern Africa Police Chiefs Cooperation Organisation (EAPCCO), CAPCCO, Southern African Regional Police Chiefs Co-operation Organisation (SARPCCO), West African Police Chiefs Committee (WAPCCO) and Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
The meeting is part of the three-year European Union (EU) funded project worth Euro 3.3 million dubbed “The Fight against the Illicit Accumulation and Trafficking of Firearms in Africa”.
The project is implemented in Africa through the Regional Centre on Small Arms in the Great Lakes Region, the Horn of Africa and Bordering States (RECSA).
While officially opening the meeting, the Minister of Internal Security, Musa Fazil Harelimana, noted that small arms and illicit proliferation and circulation of small arms and light weapons is one of the most serious security challenges facing the world today.
He urged participants to share their experiences, lay down new strategies and form new alliances to anchor the policies and initiatives to ensure a secure continent.
Harelimana noted that the existence of illegal weapons results into a loss of lives and property and affects the socio-economic growth and development of countries.
“No single police force or country can combat these crimes associated with illicit proliferation of small arms and light weapons. There is need for unity in prevention and fight against these vices. This meeting should be the foundation for unity in the service to our people,” Harelimana urged.
The Inspector General of Police, Emmanuel Gasana, said that the national police is committed to the removal of illegal weapons as an important and necessary means to address the problem.
He explained that in the last few years, together with other security organs in the country, the Rwanda National Police had undertaken strategies in line with the UN programme of action to prevent and combat the trade in illicit small arms and light weapons.
The police chief said that a large number of surplus weapons were destroyed to prevent them from falling into the wrong hands.
He called for the formation of a continental body to serve as a platform to fast-track the effectiveness and efficiency of combating trans-national organised crimes.
Dr. Francis K. Sang, the Executive Secretary of RECSA, said that the EU-funded project would see the establishment of joint forces to address common problems across borders among member countries.
The project also aims to strengthen the capacity of regional police chiefs’ cooperation and initiate the establishment of an AU continental police chiefs coordinating body.
“The proliferation and abuse of weapons diverts scarce government resources from health and education to public security, discourages development and economic growth and deprives developing countries of the skills and talents of the victims of small arms,” Sang said.
The meeting was also attended by representatives from the European Union, the AU and Interpol Regional Bureau.