Nam intensifies battle against illegal guns
Namibia must rid itself of violence against women and children - brought about in part by the countless number illegal handguns and ammunition circulating in the country.
This is the view of the Namibian parliamentarians, who met their regional counterparts at the Parliamentarians for Global Action (PGA) workshop, hosted in Windhoek late last week.
PGA is the only parliamentary organisation that is a member of the Control Arms Steering Board.
It played a substantial role in drafting the Global Parliamentary Declaration on the Arms Trade Treaty.
The Windhoek workshop attracted politicians from 12 African countries and focused on the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons.
What emerged after two days of discussion was that national leaders should take the lead to create awareness in their respective countries about the dangers of weapons.
The Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly (NA) Loide Kasingo said small firearms - in the wrong hands - causes untold suffering to women and children.
“We will have to make sure to lobby our respective governments at all levels, including at local, sub-regional, regional, continental and international level, to continuously inform and educate the masses about the dangers posed by the illegal trade in small arms, as they are the victims,” she said.
She added governments must also take punitive measures against those who violate the treaty on small arms and light weapons, once it has been adopted, ratified and domesticated into the respective national laws.
She said Namibia is concerned about the impact of the illicit trading in small arms, light weapons and ammunition on health, education, human rights and security.
The chairperson of the Standing Committee on Constitutional and Legal Affairs, Evelyn Nawases-Taeyele, said Namibia is committed to contributing to the eradication of the illicit trade in small and light weapons.
She said the country had attended a review of the United Nations Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All its Aspects in New York late last year.
“Namibia has made progress to implement the UN programme of action and in July 2004, the South African Development Community Protocol came into effect, after it was signed and ratified by 12 members States. Namibia signed the protocol on August 14, 2001 and deposited its instruments of ratification on October 8, 2004,” she said.
She added Namibia has also become party to the international and regional declarations and other protocols on small arms, ammunition and other related materials.
Nawases-Taeyele added Namibia submits reports to the UN every year on progress made with regard to implementing UN programmes on small arms and light weapons.
German Ambassador to Namibia Onno Hückmann said negotiations dealing with the Arms Trade Treaty will start in New York within the next two weeks.
“The year 2013 could be a monumental year, if the Arms Trade Treaty has been drawn up and agreed upon by all,” he said.
The ambassador said small arms are used in most developing countries to violate human rights on a large scale.
“The international community must bring in measures to bring this illicit trading of small arms and other similar ammunition under control,” he added.
Hückmann also said the treaty must be comprehensive as possible and have clear guidelines on the import and export of such weapons on a large scale.
The MPs were due to draw up a Plan of Action (PoA) at the conclusion of the workshop, which will contain a number of practical steps.
The action plan will be taken by MPs to their respective countries and parliaments to promote greater conformity with the UN programme of action and build further support for the Arms Trade Treaty.
This PoA will subsequently be publicised at the UN at the conference to finalise the Arms Trade Treaty, which takes place from March 18-28.
As advocates and lawmakers, MPs have an essential role to play and can make a vital contribution in highlighting the devastating consequences flowing from the inadequate regulation of conventional weapons in certain regions of the world.
To date, PGA members of parliament have been active in promoting improved domestic firearms legislation, facilitating the process of ratification of regional conventions, enhancing conformity of their national legislation with the UN Programme of Action on Small Arms and Light Weapons, as well as advocating strongly for the international arms treaty in many countries around the world.