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The Need to Apprehend Illicit Small Arms

Daily Mirror Sri Lanka

8 February 2015

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Sri Lanka's population today is living under the threat of illegally circulating illicit Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW), which are still unaccounted for. This is mainly because of the failure of previous governments and particulaly the previous regime's inability to curb the proliferation of illicit small arms in post-war Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka continues to accumulate an unknown number of illicit small arms since the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) insurrection in 1971. This was severely aggravated by the three-decade long armed conflict with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Elam (LTTE), and again, the second JVP insurrection in 1987-8.

Apart from those internal conflicts, distribution of weapons to politicians by the previous government, underworld circulation of SALW by private security firms, which means certain private security firms receiving weapons, including automatic weapons with the approval of the Ministry of Defence sometimes which are not returned or never recovered.

"Sri Lanka continues to accumulate an unknown number of illicit small arms since the JVP insurrection in 1971. This was severely aggravated by the three-decade long armed conflict with the LTTE and again, the second JVP insurrection in 1987-8."

Recently the media claimed that senior officer at the Ministry of Defence and Urban Development of the previous government granted licenses to issue firearms and explosives after collecting bribes amounting to millions of rupees. If this is proven it would be a grave crime committed by a senior government officer and would raise serious security concerns and questions on civilian safety.

In Sri Lanka, State agencies are required to maintain records of the storage and movement of all firearms and ammunition under their control. And also, the government-sponsored armed groups, other armed groups and various underworld groups and politicians were responsible for the proliferation of illegal small arms and light weapons in Sri Lanka.

In post-war Sri Lanka there were unprecedented levels of illicit small arms circulating among certain groups in the country, directly or indirectly sponsored by the previous UPFA government. The present government need to look into this important matter immediately. Combating, preventing and eradicating the illicit trade of small arms are a must in Sri Lanka. The current level of circulation of illicit small weapons requires concerted efforts by the Government of Sri Lanka to protect its civilians…

ID: N686

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