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Baker, Jean. 2000 ‘Weapons Control Bill: Explanatory Notes.’ Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat. Suva, Fiji: Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat. 10 March

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Weapons Control Bill: Explanatory Notes

The 1996 [Pacific Islands] Forum in Majuro recognised the potential seriousness of any increased movement of weapons throughout the region and called on Forum members to work together to control such weapons movements. The Forum Regional Security Committee (FRSC) was directed to study and report on how this might be implemented. The South Pacific Chiefs of Police Conference (SPCPC) was invited to assist in examining the issue and to offer appropriate advice to the FRSC. The Oceania Customs Organisation (OCO) was also requested to assist.

An SPCPC/OCO sub-committee was established to examine a common approach to weapons control. The sub-committee met three times and produced the "The Honiara Initiative" and "The Nadi Framework" which was the basis of this Bill.

The issue of weapons control was discussed by representatives of Forum countries at the Brisbane Workshop in May 2001 and more recently at the Tokyo Seminar in January 2003. The Bill is an essential part of a concerted approach by Forum countries that includes legislation dealing with Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters, Extradition, Money-laundering and other measures designed to strengthen the region's criminal laws.

The underlying principles of the Bill, as set out in clause 1.3, are:

- to confirm that the possession and use of weapons is a privilege that is conditional on the overriding need to ensure public safety; and
- to improve public safety by imposing strict controls on the possession and use of weapons.

The specific objects of the Bill are:

- to require each person who possesses or uses a weapon to have a genuine reason for possessing or using the weapon; and
- to provide strict requirements that must be satisfied for the importation, possession and use of firearms.

To give effect to these underlying principles, the Bill:

- prohibits the import, export, possession and use of the prohibited weapons listed in Schedule 1 to the Bill
- imposes strict controls on the import, export, possession and use of firearms and all other weapons
- sets up a system for the registration of firearms (Part 4) and the licensing of people who deal in weapons or have a genuine reason for possessing and using a weapon (Part 3)
- sets out the only genuine reasons for possessing and using a weapon
contains detailed requirements for storage of weapons (Part 5)
- deals with border control (Part 7)
- imposes strict controls on weapons dealers (Part 6).


[Jean Baker was the legislative drafter contracted by the Australian government to compile the Draft Model Weapons Control Bill for the Pacific Islands Forum, in consultation with Forum members.]

ID: Q577

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