Participants during a healthy debate on the Firearms Act 2016 in Aweil Town.

Aweil, 17 October 2019: About 40 key people from local government and law enforcement agencies in the Aweil region of South Sudan came together to improve the implementation of the national policies on firearms. Through a two-day workshop, they focused on enhancing the understanding of the National Policy on Small Arms and Light Weapons 2012 (SALW) and the Firearms Act 2016.

It was organized by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in collaboration with the Bureau of Community Security and Small Arms Control (BCSSAC).

The participants represented the state assembly, judiciary, police, army, wildlife protection, and national security services as well as traditional leaders, faith-based groups, media, young people and women’s associations. 

The discussions also aimed at transforming the mind-set of local communities by reducing the dependency on weapons and ensuring peaceful conflict resolution.

Launching the workshop, the Aweil State Minister for Local Government and Law Enforcement Agencies, Hon. Deng Ayom Ayom said, “This workshop is important for us to understand the government’s policy on control of small arms including the consequences of illegal ownership and use of firearms in resolving local disputes. This is an opportunity to learn the policy on small arms and share the knowledge with our communities.” He also thanked UNDP for bringing together key local government and law enforcement agencies in the area.

The first day of the workshop covered a range of pertinent issues related to regulating the illicit movement of firearms across the borders; preventing licit firearms from becoming illicit and eliminating stocks of illicit firearms in the country. 

Following this, the second day of the workshop took a deep dive into the key provisions outlined in the Firearms Act 2016. They also discussed issues outlined in the act such as stockpile management, registry of firearms, firearm licenses, validity and loss of firearm and licenses to carry firearms.

During the two-day workshop, participants constructively debated challenges and gaps in implementing the policies. The issues arising from the discussions cut across challenges on enforcing the eligibility to possess firearms and eliminating illicit firearms. Lending her voice to the discussion, participant Victoria Reec said, “Knowledge of the law on firearms can bring peace to our community. We should respect the law.” 

As an outcome of the discussion, the following recommendations were made:

  • Dissemination of the national policy on small arms and light weapons and the firearms Act should target traditional leaders because as community leaders, they have a better knowledge of people possessing firearms; 
  • Deadly weapons including knives, swords, spears, bows, and arrows should be regulated by an act. There is a need for a policy on the manufacture, ownership, use, and sales of these deadly weapons as some communities use them in committing crimes or settling disputes;
  • Inheritance of firearms should be allowed in case of death of the firearms owner;
  • A South Sudanese civilian aged 30 years and more should be eligible to license and own and a firearm. 

On the last day of the workshop, the State Minister for Local Government, Hon. Deng Ayom called out to all the participants to take the key learning from the sessions and relay the messages to the communities. “We must respect the Firearms Act and do our jobs with honesty,” he concluded.

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