Ellen Grants ‘Full Amnesty’ for Surrender of Small Arms

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The Liberian Leader has proclaimed that all who will surrender small arms and light weapons in Maryland, Grand Gedeh and River Gee Counties are going to be “unconditionally and without reservation” granted full amnesty.

In her proclamation on the ECOWAS-EU Weapons Collection program taking place in those three counties within a stipulated timeframe, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf said those who hand-over their arms will be given full amnesty for the offence of illegal possession, supply of fire arms and objects for lethal use against Liberia, with the restoration of all rights, privileges, and immunities under the Constitution.

The three counties lie along the borders with La Côte d’Ivoire, which until few years ago was very unstable as armed men allegedly crossed over from forested regions of Liberia and staged an insurgency in that country. Other than what happened in Grand Bassam, La Cote d’Ivoire last March, neighboring country has remained largely stable.

According to the Foreign Ministry, President Sirleaf recognizes that the proliferation and illegal possession of small arms and light weapons pose a grave threat to the peace and stability of Liberia and the sub-region, and constitutes a major tool of fueling armed conflicts and perpetrating crimes.

“As such, President Sirleaf has formulated policies and laws, and has established national structures by law to effectively control the illegitimate flow and possession of small arms and light weapons in Liberia, the sub-region, and the global community including the transfer of arms by suppliers and arms brokers through Liberia,” the Ministry said.

The President also said that progressive efforts are also being made by ECOWAS to control the proliferation of small arms and light weapons, including its disastrous consequences, through the “ECOWAS Convention on Small Arms and Light Weapons, their Ammunition and other Related Materials” and implementation of the “Convention” via the 3-year ECOWAS-EU Small Arms Project within the broader context of “Disarmament and Community Development” or “Weapons for Development” in the Sahel Region and the Mano River Basin.

The project component covering Liberia, specifically Grand Gedeh, River Gee, and Maryland Counties, will significantly contribute to the development of the Community and its inhabitants, the maintenance of peace and peace-building, and the safety and security and of Liberia and the sub-region.

The ECOWAS-EU Small Arms Project entails voluntary weapons surrender by civilians in the targeted communities which, by so doing, constitutes a violation of the laws of the Republic of Liberia – for which the Liberia National Commission on Small Arms (LiNCSA) requests a form of dispensation for members of the targeted communities to be exempted from any security and legal scrutiny or actions – and to also ensure the confidentiality of identity for persons reporting weapons under the project.

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