East African Community (EAC) member countries are meeting in Kigali in a validation workshop on the study by the Regional Centre on Small Arms (RECSA) on the status of armed crimes in Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda.
The report dubbed ‘Analysis of Armed Crime Rates’ released on July 25, in Kigali was conducted between 2010 and March 2016 with the support of African Development Bank (AfDB).
Inspector General of Police (IGP) Emmanuel K Gasana, while presiding over the event, highlighted measures put in place by Rwanda in prevention and control of the proliferation of small arms and light weapons including laws and community awareness as well as arms’ marking.
“The electronic arms record keeping software has been instrumental in enhancing effective arms record keeping and accountability hence minimizing possible misuse of arms and this has had a positive impact on reduction of armed crimes in our country,” IGP Gasana said.
Rwanda was among the first countries to enact and revise its regulations on small arms in line with international and regional obligation of legal harmonization.
“Rwanda National Police continues to make use of different strategies like training and development, crime awareness campaigns through community policing programmes, intelligence and IT led policing, arms marking and collection and destruction of obsolete small arms and light weapons,” said the Police Chief.
He thanked RECSA for its continued support to help member countries to fight proliferation of illicit small arms.
According to the report, Rwanda registered 421 cases related to armed crimes between 2010 and March 2016, the least in EAC compared to other four bloc member states mentioned in the study.
Tanzania registered 9, 646 cases; Kenya with 12.877 while Burundi and Uganda complete the least with 26, 041 and34, 512 cases respectively, the report further states.
RECSA Executive Secretary, Theoneste Mutsindashyaka recognized Rwanda for its efforts in prevention of proliferation of illicit small arms and light weapons.
He pointed out that armed conflicts continue to destroy lives and livelihoods.
The proliferation of small arms and light weapons presents one of the biggest security challenges currently facing countries in Eastern Africa sub-region.
“The trafficking and wide availability of these weapons fuel instability, conflict and pose a threat, not only to security, but also to sustainable development.The widespread proliferation of illicit small arms is contributing to alarming levels of armed crime, in both rural and urban areas and at the same time exacerbates armed cattle rustling and other conflicts in pastoralist areas,” Mutsindashyaka said.
Mutsindashyaka went on to say that small arms are the “weapons of choice in gang violence.”
“Majority of armed crime cases were armed robbery, cattle rustling, carjacking and terrorism…this remains a concern since 8 of the 15 member countries of RECSA are rated fragile due to conflicts that are mainly fueled by trafficked small arms,” he said.
In highlighting challenges related to proliferation of small arms, the Executive Secretary pointed out that, capacity at national levels is one of the main challenges facing the fight against proliferation of small arms.
“The fact that no country can have security at every centimeter of the borderline also eases the trafficking of illicit arms,” he said
The study sought to quantify and analyse armed crime data in EAC countries, determine the impact of small arms interventions in EAC countries and propose policy options to address small arms proliferation.
Dr. Somorin Alufunso, Senior Policy Analyst at AfDB drew the line between security and development saying that; “for any community to develop, there must be security. Where there is security there is also need for sustainability.”
Meanwhile, in the course of the week, RECSA is also scheduled to conduct a training of 30 officers from Rwanda Defence Forces (RDF), RNP and Rwanda Correctional Services (RCS) on ‘Physical Security and Stockpile Management’ of small arms.
There will also be an exercise to destroy over 49 tons of unexploded ordinances and very old stock of firearms.
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