AMNESTY

You'll be forgiven if you surrender illegal weapons now - Matiang’i

Those who return the guns before September 30 are assured of pardon.

In Summary

•This is in line with an African Union recognized tradition aimed at encouraging voluntary surrender of illicit firearms.

•Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i launched the programme on Tuesday.

Interior CS Fred Matiang'i .
Interior CS Fred Matiang'i .
Image: ALVIN RATEMO

The government has launched an amnesty month for people with illicit firearms.

This is in line with an African Union recognized tradition aimed at encouraging voluntary surrender of illicit firearms.

Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i launched the programme on Tuesday and urged the public to take advantage of the amnesty period, cooperate with security officials and return illegal arms.

Those who return the guns before September 30 have been assured of pardon.

He directed the National Police Service and Regional County Commissioners to coordinate surrender initiatives.

The Kenya National Focal Point On Small Arms and Light Weapons(KNFP) is also coordinating the activities.

The agency says a survey conducted by Africa Amnesty indicated that in Kenya, over 600,000 firearms are in the hands of civilians.

“Members of the public have an obligation to cooperate with security agencies in the course of this nationwide activity. This is the only way we can end the trend of some of the ravages that such arms have visited some parts of our country,” Matiang’i said.

The call by the government to allow citizens to return illegal guns in the month of September without any punishment is in line with the decision of the African Union Heads of State Summit endorsing the observance of September as the Africa Amnesty Month for the surrender and collection of illegally owned arms.

The roadmap prepared in 2016 aims to help regions and states to achieve the goal of silencing guns in Africa.

During Amnesty Month in 2020, the government collected over 5,000 firearms from civilians.Illegal arms have been blamed on most crimes in the country.

KNFP director Charlton Mureithi said they are are determined through various programmes to address the arms menace.

“We call on those with the illegal weapons to surrender under the amnesty period. No action will be taken on them,” he said.

On June 9, President Uhuru Kenyatta set on fire 5,144 illegal weapons as well as obsolete state-owned small arms and light weapons as part of efforts to fight crime.

Uhuru said the recovery of illicit small arms and light weapons is in tandem with the African Union’s call for Silencing the Guns in Africa. He said although the AU target was not fully fully achieved by 2020, the deadline year, individual countries, Kenya included, have made excellent progress towards that goal.

In November 2019, Uhuru presided over the destruction of 8,700 illegal firearms and 366,000 bullets at the General Service Unit Magadi Field Training Campus in Kajiado County.

Uhuru said the destruction was one of the proactive measures being taken by his administration to guarantee security and safety of its citizens and their property.

“It is worth noting that, seizing of ammunition illegally held, is one of the measures that we, as a country, are undertaking to ensure and sustain security in the country,” he said.

Uhuru said the move was in line with the regulatory frameworks and various regional and international legal instruments on the management of small and light weapons, to which Kenya is a signatory.

Kenya’s history of publicly burning illegal firearms dating back to 2003, is in respect to several United Nations (UN) commitments to eradicate the trade in small arms and light weapons.

 

Edited by CM