Media / Watchdog
Thursday, 16 Feb 2017 16:05 EATamboleokata@gmail.com
The media in Kenya has been challenged to actively partake its role in the war against the proliferation of small arms and light weapons in the country by actively covering and reporting stories related to the war.
Speaking during a media sensitization workshop on the proliferation of small arms and light weapons(SALW) held at a Nairobi Hotel, the executive director of the Fellowship of Christian Councils and Churches in the Great Lakes Region and the Horn of Africa (FECCLAHA), Elizabeth Kisiigha, said that the media has a critical role to play in the SALW proliferation war in the region.
She said that the media being a tool relied upon by the society in relaying information, needs to engage in the mental disarmament of communities and individuals in possession of illegal SALW by broadcasting content detailing the dangers of possessing illegal firearms.
During the workshop, the stakeholders present discussed and shared challenges they face in the fight against the proliferation of small arms and light weapons in the region as well as recommendations to overcome the challenges. The director of the Kenya National Focal Point on Small Arms, Marcus Ochola, said that according to government statistics close to 680,000 small arms and light weapons are illegally possessed.
Mr Ochola cited instability in neighbouring countries like South Sudan and Somalia, cultural beliefs among pastoralist communities and porous borders as some of the biggest challenges faced in the eradication of illegally possessed SALW. He also said that most of the illegal firearms finding their way into Kenya were coming from Libya and were coming into Kenya via Sudan.
He however said that the situation had improved on the Kenyan-Somalia, Kenya-Ethiopia and Kenya-Uganda borders in terms of the number of illegal firearms getting into the country, attributing the success to improved border surveillance and the enhanced recruitment of security officers in the past four years.
At the same time, Mr Ochola called for stringent border control measures and accountability of state owned firearms ,control of civilian possession of SALW and disarmament as among measure that need to be taken in the SALW proliferation war.
He said that the Kenyan government is in the process if marking and serialising all state owned firearms and that 96 percent of all state owned firearms had been marked. The process of marking of state owned firearms is being carried across all Horn of Africa and great Lakes region states.
Head of media monitoring at the Media Council of Kenya, Abraham Kipsang, challenged journalists reporting or covering stories related to the war against illegal SALW to always ensure that their reporting is in point and get all facts right before broadcasting their stories. He cited misreporting in some media outlets on the SALW proliferation war, something he said wasn't helping.
Journalists at the meeting called on the government and security forces to be willing and ready to provide information to the media to ensure that whatever is being reported is factual. They blamed the alleged misreporting to the unwillingness to provide information by security agencies involved in the disarmament exercise and operations.
The sensitization workshop convened by FECCLAHA brought together stakeholders from the media sector the Kenya national focal point and the regional centre on small arms (RECSA).
The writer is contributing reporter for the Kenya Free Press based in Nakuru County