Zambia’s Ambassador to Ethiopia, Susan Sikaneta says Zambia is committed to observing September as Africa month for the surrendering of illegal weapons.
Ms. Sikaneta who is also Zambia’s Permanent Representative to the AU, emphasised the need for all countries to support the stance taken by the AU in order to end conflicts in Africa.
She noted that the decision of the AU to surrender weapons protects people who surrender their illegally owned weapons so that they are not subjected to disclosure, humiliation, arrest or prosecution.
Ms. Sikaneta added that it is important that relevant authorities sensitise the citizenry on the matter.
She also emphasised the need for massive publicity on the Amnesty month by the media stating that the African Union will sponsor two workshops for the media and military personnel in Zambia so that they can be enlightened on the importance of the month and help in creating awareness.
Ms. Sikaneta further urged Civil Society Organisations, faith based organisations and other stakeholders to publicise through media networks the Africa Amnesty month within their territories and regions in order to raise awareness.
Meanwhile, Ms. Sikaneta has also called for peaceful resolution of disputes on the continent.
She said it is the responsibility of African countries to ensure challenges of having a conducive environment are addressed while eliminating the scourge of illegal weapons in the continent in order not to accord people with reasons to seek illegal weapons.
Ms. Sikaneta noted with concern that illicit weapons are sourced first outside the continent, through illegal trade facilitated by networks of corruption, illicit financing, secret transit and delivery to end users in Africa.
The African Union (AU) declared September of each year till 2020 as Africa Amnesty month during the 29th Heads of State and government Summit in 2017, for the surrender of illegal weapons in line with the African and International best practices.
The AU envisages that the Amnesty month can be successful if member states work at strengthening the criminal justice response to illicit arms trade, strengthen the capacities of police and security institutions as well as heighten border security.
This is according to a statement issued to ZANIS in Lusaka today by First Secretary for Press and Tourism, at the Zambian embassy in Addis Ababa in Ethiopia, Inutu Mwanza,