Uganda Peoples Defence Forces (UPDF) has started registering and marking all small firearms and light weapons in northern Uganda in a move aimed at identifying illegal ones.
The exercise kicks off a day after Security minister Mary Karooro Okurut announced that security agencies will conduct operations to get rid of illegal and unregistered firearms that are being used to commit crimes in the country in the wake of the killing of senior State prosecutor Joan Kagezi.
The exercise, which was held at the 4th Division Infantry headquarters in Gulu Town on Wednesday, involved engraving serial numbers and UPDF signs on weapons.
It is being implemented by the National Focal Point on Small Arms and Light Weapons with support from the British government.
Mr Makmot Okello, the coordinator of the exercise, said the Ministry of Internal Affairs is obliged to mark all guns in the country in line with international treaties on firearms.
“We are implementing the Nairobi Protocol on light firearms that has worked so well in Kenya. We want it don and we have successfully executed it in other parts of the country,” he said.
He added that it is only in the north that the marking had not taken place because the region was at war the time the exercise was ongoing in other parts of the country.
“The main objective of the exercise is to ensure state actors such as Uganda Wildlife Authority, Uganda Prisons, UPDF, and Police mark their guns for proper control and records of guns to avoid leakage of firearms,” Mr Makmot said.
Lt Col Abdul Kasule from the Inspectorate of General Military Equipment said the army has so far marked 60 per cent of the weapons in the eastern, central and western regions.
“With this ongoing exercise in the northern region, we hope to raise the coverage to 70 percent and the remaining 30 per cent will be achieved upon covering the remaining areas of north east,” said Lt Col Kasule.
Col Caesar Otim Olweny, the 4th Division spokesperson, welcomed the exercise.
“We have been criticised on several occasions, especially when crimes committed involve guns.
They rush to conclude that the guns could have been hired from the army, but now it will be the contrary because once we arrest these people, we will only look for the marks,” Col Olweny said.
The exercise is in line with the United Nations Plan of Action, 2001, the UN Firearms Protocol, 2005, and the Nairobi Protocol for the Prevention, Control, and Reduction of Small Arms and Light Weapons in the Great Lakes Region, to which Uganda is a signatory.
SOURCE: Daily Monitor