The Liberia National Commission on Small Arms’ attention is drawn to the recent melee in Yekepa, Nimba County, where a group of protesters raided the compound of Arcellor Mittal in what was supposed to be a ‘peaceful’ demonstration by youth of the area.
The Commission is especially appalled by the nature and scale of the violence in which illicit firearms were employed to inflict damage and incite an atmosphere of fear and terror among peaceful citizens of the County.
The protesters reportedly exchanged gunfire and wounded some officers of the Emergency Response Unit (ERU) of the Police, held employees hostage for several hours, looted and vandalized company Properties worth millions of dollars, and burned down a key access link to Yekepa, the Saniquellie to Yekepa Bridge.
The Commission recalls how such incidents, when left unattended, can fuel overtime and eventually translate into conflict at such magnitude and scale as the one we have already experienced in Liberia.
The Commission further observes that this incident and similar other developments of armed related violence and crimes which continue to undermine our peace and security underscore the urgency for stepping up efforts to combat the proliferation of illicit small arms and light weapons.
Cf critical importance in this endeavor is the urgency for fast-tracking ongoing efforts by the Commission towards putting in place an effective policy and regulatory framework for guns control in Liberia as existing domestic laws are either ad-hoc or outdated.
Meanwhile, the Commission welcomes recent move by the President to officially submit the Arms Trade Treaty to the 53rd National Legislature for ratification. The Commission calls on the Legislature to act in a timely manner to ratify the said Treaty as Liberia stands to benefit more not only by honoring her international legal obligation but also taking the right step towards preventing the human suffering caused by unrestrained trade in conventional arms.