LiNCSA and Partners Endorsed a Communication Strategy


Monrovia, Thursday April 7, 2022: The Liberia National Commission on Small Arms (LiNCSA), in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has concluded a three-day stakeholders’ validation sessions to endorse a Communication Strategy that define the complete Communication and Media goals of the Commission and to promote visibility of the Commission’s work as well as create public awareness and understanding of the dangers associated with the proliferation and illicit manufacturing, use, distribution, possession, trade, transfer and trafficking of small arms, ammunition, light weapons and explosives.

 

The Process of validating the Communication Strategy started April 4-6 in the City of Ganta, Nimba County, and brought together a total of Thirty-Five (35) participants including Donor Partners from UNDP, Civil Society Organizations, representative of the Liberia Human Right Commission, Communication and Media Professionals, key National Security Agencies, and selected employees of LiNCSA thoroughly participated in deliberations which led to the endorsement of a Communication Strategy.

 

The Communication strategy, which has now been endorsed, will serve as an internal and external guide for the Small Arms Commission of Liberia on how to relate to State Security Institutions, Civil Society Organizations Donor Partners as well as media institutions involved with arms control promotion.

Speaking during a formal ceremony, LiNCSA Chairman Atty. Teklo Maxwell Grigsby II, thanked donor partners for supporting the Commission’s mandate, especially in areas that is very important to the overall operation and objective of the Commission.

Chairman Grigsby spoke to the effect of the various laws on the right of ownership of firearms in the country since independence and noted that the Executive Order of 2006 placed a restrictive order prohibiting the holding or owning of firearms by any citizens of Liberia.

LiNCSA Boss indicated that the ACT of 2015 supersedes all other firearm laws and the current law says only authorized State Security officers are to bear firearms.

Providing further education, Chairman Grigsby said the firearm law has exception and that is civilian ownership of single barrel shoulder firearms for the sole purpose of hunting.

While providing insight on some cultural practices as it relates to firing of single barrel guns to honor the traditional leaders, LiNCSA Chairman said to the participants that legal discussions are ongoing to allow some of these customary practices by our people.

The Communication Strategy in the opinion of LiNCSA Boss serves as a gateway to provide public education to citizens on gun control and to further reinforce relationship with national and international partners.

 

The Keynote Speaker and Veteran Liberian Journalist Eva Flomo Tunah said the ECOWAS regional radio has a mandate to foster regional integration by bringing more visibility to the ideals and aspirations of the region, its activities and culture.

Speaking on the role of the media in combating organized crime: West Africa Response to trafficking (OCWAR-T), Madam Tunah pointed out that the successes recorded by the United Nations radio, now ECOWAS Radio in Liberia during its 14 years of service in peacekeeping, in a country ravaged by 14 years of civil strife, which led to massive displacement internally and externally, the radio is still committed to covering activities on cross border trade, reintegration, peace, security, good governance, economic growth and infrastructural development, human resource capacity building and development.

The ECOWAS Radio Coordinator and Media Executive assured participants of bringing to light issues related to crime and criminality, terrorism and jihadist attacks, barbarism of Fulani herdsmen, gangster raids and harassment of community dwellers who are forced to flee their homes on a daily basis.

The Keynote Speaker reminded participants about the region witnessing three unconstitutional takeovers of power starting with Mali, Guinea and Burkina Faso, noting if not for a foiled attempt, Guinea Bissau would’ve added on the list of countries suffering power grabs or coup d’états this year.

 

Aside from these stories on power grabs, Madam Tunah said, we also read about the triggered effects of families disintegrated as a result of armed gangs raiding towns, villages and cities and forcefully taking people away hostage for either ransom or as sex slaves.

“Where do these weapons come from? Are they legally traded? Are they fully registered? How many of these weapons are in the hands of criminals parading Zamfara in Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger? Who makes efforts to chase or arrest them when they usually come in large numbers and sometimes under the cover of darkness to kidnap innocent citizens and put families in disarray” the Keynote Speaker wonders!

ECOWAS Radio and other Media Institutions, according to Madam Eva Flomo Tunah, must see this as reporting crime and criminal activities, as a responsibility to keep citizens, who desire better livelihood opportunities, informed about the trend of events plaguing the region.

The region, according to Madam Tunah, is threatened with numerous reports regarding organized crime and it will require a robust media to amplify those things that have negatively impacted the regional economy.

She revealed that Liberian border towns and villages along the Ivorian enclave are occupied with Burkinabe farmers who are claiming ownership of the land they illegally occupy, and that these Burkinabe Farmers chase actual citizens away with machetes and single barrel guns, causing the people to live in fear. This is a result of illicit weapons trade and the Media must dig deeper and bring out the hidden stories.

Madam Eva Flomo Tunah lauded the support of the 11th European Development Fund-EDF, as an integral part of the regional Indicative Program on EU Aid to the region, emphasizing such a great opportunity that the Liberia National Commission on Small Arms-LiNCSA has received to help it join forces in combating organized crime groups involved in illicit trafficking.

 

It is also worth noting, according to the Keynote Speaker that the three-year project, managed by the UNDP, covers seven (7) countries including Liberia, with the ultimate goal to strengthen regional governance frameworks in combating transnational organized crimes and trafficking and to enhance the capacity of state agencies specialized in combating these threats.

Madam Eva Flomo Tunah, speaking to media and civil society professionals as well as personnel of the national security sector said, the project will rely on high level and community awareness and sensitization on the dangers associated with the illicit proliferation and trafficking of small arms and armed violence, among others, and it behooves media practitioners and other stakeholders who are to assist in the validation of the Commission’s Communication Strategy, to ensure that the policy document is well understood and streamline policy actions that will help address the dangers associated with the proliferation and illicit manufacturing, use, distribution, possession, trade, transfer and trafficking of small arms, ammunition, and light weapons.

“It is not just enough to hear and talk about it but to bring national government institutions with specific mandates, to address the concerns expressed”.

In her concluding Keynote address She said, the Communication strategy should guide us all on how to proceed with the validation process, and calling on her colleagues to dissect the document keenly and make the necessary inputs on arms control for the three days in the provincial capital Gompa, Nimba County.

OCWAR-T National Project Coordinator representing UNDP, Abraham Blamoh Sieh conveyed the greetings of the UNDP Resident Representative to Liberia, and describing the partnership between UNDP and LiNCSA as a trusted one.

Mr. Sieh said, the UNDP has collaborated with LiNCSA in a unique way in eliminating small arms and light weapons in Liberia and across its borders.

The OCWAR-T Project Coordinator emphasized that the illicit flow of small arms and light weapons are very critical and is a national security concern, hence a validation of a Communication Strategy is pivotal in addressing the illicit flow of arms and keeping the general public, especially border communities alert.

For his part, Mr. Nicholas Faryomba, Executive Secretary of the Liberia Action Network on Small Arms (LANSA), speaking on behalf of Civil Society Organizations, praised the efforts of the Small Arms Commission in areas necessary to combat the illicit trading of small arms and light weapons in Liberia and across its borders.

Mr. Faryomba said, participating in deliberations leading to the validation of a Communication Strategy is an honor and see such approach as one of the best option in educating the general public.

A Communication Strategy, according to LANSA Executive Secretary, will strategically guide the communication and media approach that the Commission anticipates, thus making it more visible in the eyes of the public.

Mr. Nicholas Faryomba praised the leadership of the Commission, and at the same time pledged Civil Society support in whatever activities aim at curbing illicit small arms and light weapons.

Gompa City Mayor, Amos N. G. Suah who welcomed the participants, said he sees the Communication Strategy as a vital document to expose the good image of the Small Arms Commission activities and programs.

 

The National Consultant, Mr. Jacob Jallah who was hired under the OCWAR-T Project to draft the Communication Strategy lauded the Commission for the initiative, and particularly applauded the Chairman Atty. Teklo Maxwell Grigsby II, for thinking in the direction of hiring a Liberian to fulfill such a herculean task.

The validation session of the Communication Strategy is part of initiative that is being held under the framework of Liberia’s component of the Organized Crime West Africa Response to Trafficking (OCWAR-T) Project, a three-year project that is being managed by the United Nations Development Fund.

The project covers seven (7) ECOWAS Member States and is designed to strengthen regional governance frameworks in combating Transitional Organized Crime and trafficking and to enhance the capacity of state agencies specialized in combating these threats.