The Namibian : 2007-09-24 : NGOs dream of a gun-free society

After helping to increase crime in South Africa by removing guns from law-abiding citizens, the anti-gun crowd have now moved to Namibia to wreak their havoc there.

The Namibian : 2007-09-24 : NGOs dream of a gun-free society

Postby GOSA » Sat, 2007-12-01 10:52

http://www.namibian.com.na/2007/Septemb ... 76FF1.html

Monday, September 24, 2007 - Web posted at 8:44:51 GMT

NGOs dream of a gun-free society
BRIGITTE WEIDLICH

A CAMPAIGN to have gun-free zones in large parts of Namibia will kick off today with 28 non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and the Council of Churches of Namibia declaring their premises free of firearms.



Briefing media about the campaign on Friday, which was International Peace Day, Pauline Dempers of the Namibia NGO Forum (Nangof) said the 28 institutions would erect signboards at their entrances from today.

Anybody carrying a firearm would have to declare it at the entrance, it would be stored in a safe and only handed back upon leaving the premises.

"A gun-free zone can be a school, a clinic, a business, a shebeen or even a private household," Pauline Dempers said.

"We hope that more institutions and individuals will join us so that large areas will become free of firearms."

Among the partner NGOs are the Legal Assistance Centre (LAC), the Working Group of Indigenous People in Southern Africa (Wimsa), Unicef, the Breaking the Walls of Silence Movement (BWS), the National Society for Human Rights (NSHR) and the Namibian Community-based Tourism Association (Nacobta).

Namibia, Malawi and Lesotho are the first countries outside South Africa in the region to embark on this campaign.

The project is the brainchild of the organisation Gun Free South Africa.

The main objective of the project is to lobby for law reform and tighter gun control as a way to stem the high rate of gun-related crimes in that country.

Given the success of Gun Free South Africa, it was resolved to initiate similar projects in Lesotho, Namibia and Malawi this year, with the ultimate objective of running similar projects throughout the African continent.

According to Dempers, the "Gun Free Namibia" campaign will be carried out under the auspices of Nangof and will be facilitated by the BWS.

This pilot project will run for six months.

"Four volunteers under the supervision and guidance of myself will implement it," Dempers said.

"We will campaign for the establishment of gun-free zones at public places such as schools, hospitals, shebeens and clubs, to discourage private gun ownership and to lobby for tighter control of private firearms."

Namibia is part of the Safer Africa campaign and established a national focal point committee three years ago, which is hosted by NamPol and with active engagement of civil society via Nangof.

Dempers said this committee feels that the country's existing law on firearms needs to be reviewed to tighten loopholes.

One of the major shortcomings identified by the committee is that people receive a firearm licence for life.

"This should be changed and the licence holder checked for fitness every few years.

The Minister of Safety and Security is expected to table several amendments in Parliament soon," the Nangof official said.

Namibia has ratified a protocol of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) in this regard.

The SADC Protocol on Firearms, Ammunition and Related Materials aims to create regional controls over trafficking and possession of arms.

In another initiative, the Southern African Regional Police Chiefs Co-operation Organisation (Sarpcco) was formed to tackle cross-border crime.

Sarpcco's priority is to reduce the trafficking of firearms and their use in crime in the region.
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