Kenya moves to limit illegal guns

March 17, 2009 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 17 – The illegal possession of firearms could soon become a capital offence if proposed legislation is enacted by Parliament, the government announced on Tuesday.

Internal Security Assistant Minister Mr Simeon Lesirma said the law would provide for stiffer penalties and harsh sentences to serve as deterrent measures to offenders.

“The law if enacted by Parliament will provide for capital punishment for those in possession, trading, conveying and dealing in illegal weapons,” he said.

Under the current laws, illegal possession of firearms and gun-running is not a punishable by death.

On his part, Police Chief Maj General Mohammed Hussein Ali said once enacted, the law would help reduce illegal possession of guns in the country, hence reducing crime.

“We are facing a major challenge of arms proliferation in the country. This law will help reduce crime,” he said and urged Kenyans to assist security forces in identifying those possessing guns illegally.

They spoke at Uhuru Gardens in Nairobi where 2,498 firearms were burnt to mark the 9th anniversary of the declaration on proliferation of small arms in the country.

The arms were doused with diesel and set ablaze in public, as has been the tradition since the year 2000.

Major General Ali said the bulk of the assorted rifles destroyed on Tuesday were recovered from robbery suspects while others had been voluntarily surrendered in cattle rustling regions during the government amnesty.

He said some of the weapons destroyed are those that were kept as exhibits and in which cases had been heard and determined.

“Once cases are completed, we destroy the arms that were used as exhibits. There are also those that were recovered in various parts of the country and had no cases in court,” he added.

In 2007, nearly 8,000 illicit arms were destroyed marking the largest number ever to be destroyed in Kenya.

“This time, the majority of firearms were recovered during security operations with the largest haul coming from Mount Elgon,” Police Spokesman Erick Kiraithe said.

Another large number was recovered during sustained police operations in Nairobi and Central Province, mainly involving Mungiki sect members.

“Even as we destroy these firearms, it is not lost on us that thousands of illicit weapons in this country still exist in the wrong hands,” he said.


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