Kenya troubled by shoulder missiles

April 13, 2011 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya Apr 13 – A two-day regional workshop bringing together senior security officials kicked off in Nairobi on Wednesday with the aim of coming up with ways of dealing with the proliferation of small arms.

Regional Centre on Small Arms (RESCA) Executive Secretary Francis Sang said the meeting would explore the flow and impact of human portable air defence systems.

"The Nairobi Protocol requires state parties that have not yet established national systems for regulating dealers and brokers on small arms and light weapons to do so," he told participants on Wednesday.

Man-portable air-defence systems (Manpads) are shoulder-launched surface-to-air missiles that are used to attack low-flying aircraft.

Speaking during the opening session, Police Commission Matthew Iteere said the spillage of existing stocks in the black market had become a source of concern especially in the airline transport industry.

He called for fastracking in the enactment of the legislation dealing with curbing the proliferation of small arms.

"Continuous caution must be emphasised at all levels notwithstanding commercial travels that are over time coming under threat.  As such no country can remain a bystander when it comes to the spread of Manpads," the Police Commissioner said.

He cited the 1980 Norfolk Hotel bombings, the 1998 US embassy bombing, the 2002 Paradise Hotel bombings in Kikambala Mombasa and the simultaneous attempt to shoot down an Israeli airline at Moi International Airport Mombasa as some of the most deadly attacks to hit Kenya.

"Kenya needs not to be introduced to this subject as we have been victims of this scourge on many occasions…Subsequent terrorist attack in the transport industry is a clear indication that terrorism attacks/threats is real and needs to be addressed with utmost seriousness. We must acknowledge that our airlines transport is not immune to such attacks, “he said.

He urged participants, to look into ways of improving the management of porous borders as it breeds proliferation of illicit arms.

Mr Iteere said measures to curb the influx of illegal arms from neighbouring war torn countries are underway, as the force endeavours to ensure security for all.

The Police Commissioner tasked stakeholders in the security sector to come up with sustainable policies to reduce the influx of illegal weapons into the country.

"Most of the problems affecting us even the insecurity in the country at the moment especially on organised crime, use of weapon is as a result of insecurity with our neighbouring countries more so with South Sudan, Sudan and Ethiopia, in fact they account for more than 99 percent of the illegal arms in the country," he said.

Mr Iteere also defended the police over accusations of lack of comprehensive investigations on suspected drug lords, saying the probe was still ongoing and those found guilty would face the full force of the law irrespective of their social status.

He said that the police have been keen on the effort to curb drug peddling and said they are making significant progress.

Mr Iteere also said it would be premature to declare someone guilty without sufficient evidence and he urged the public to partner with the police in the fight.

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