The Board Chair of the NGO known as Women in Alternative Action abbreviated WAA-Cameroon says recent statistics on the proliferation of firearms show that of the well over 639 million illegal guns circulating in the world, more than 2 million of them are found in the Central African sub region.
Madam Gladys Shang Viban was speaking in Yaoundé last Monday March 29, 2010 during a ceremony to present a draft law proposal for the reform of firearm decree N° 73658 of the 22nd October 1973 in Cameroon.
Amongst other things, Madam Gladys Viban said gun violence places a heavy burden on human health, security and development for “It’s said that there are about 600 gun violence related deaths every day and when we come closer home, just under a month, two people died of gun shots in Awing village during a funeral celebration," she said.
This does not only apply for Cameroon and the Central Africa sub region as in the world today, the index of the proliferation of firearms has reached disturbing proportions.
According to the draft law proposals submitted to government by WAA Cameroon, this disturbing proportion is because most transitional crimes like terrorism, piracy, hijacking and drug trafficking require the use of firearms.
In Cameroon the rising rate of armed robbery, civil unrest and murder amongst others is promoted by the easy way by which arms are acquired. This is due to the fact that Cameroon is found in a strategic position at the Gulf of Guinea that serves as a corridor for most landlocked countries like Chad and Central African Republic.
It is therefore because of this that Women in Alternative Action, WAA-Cameroon, thought that that the 1973 law on the proliferation and use of firearms be reviewed and therefore came out with the draft proposal that was submitted to representatives of government and other international bodies.
Given that the effects of the illicit circulation of firearms will not only affect Cameroon, “It’s therefore imperative that strict laws regulating the circulation of firearms into and out of Cameroon are put in place,” says the Executive Director of WAA-Cameroon, Madam Justine Kwashu Kumche.
She adds that the existing legislation in Cameroon, the 1973 Decree is obsolete and outmoded, and cannot properly regulate the circulation of firearms and ammunition.
It is thus with the failure by the current legislation that WAA Cameroon embarked on a research and their findings according to the draft law shows that despite the possession of firearms in the country, there are no official records of the number and types and that the procedure for the acquisition of various categories of licenses is anachronistic.
Hence the draft law by WAA is a product of intensive research, consultations, interviews and debates with Professors, Magistrates, Members of Parliament, Politicians, senior jurists, Traditional Rulers, Religious Authorities, Customs Officials, amongst others who were also present during the presentation ceremony.
According to the Moderator of the PCC, the Rt Rev. Dr. Festus Assana, who sat in as the representative of the religious authorities, "When a bullet is flying it does not discriminate even a pastor, hence the church is not left out when it concerns the fight against the proliferation of firearms," the man of God said
The government was represented at the presentation ceremony by the Ministries of Women's Empowerment and the Family, Defence, External Relations, and the National Assembly.
By Ndi Eugene Ndi
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