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Side event: Czech national system of marking, record-keeping, and tracing firearms and ammunition

(This article expired 13.09.2013.)

The Permanent Mission of the Republic of Kenya and the Permanent Mission of the Czech Republic to the United Nations jointly organized a side event to discuss and evaluate their national experience in keeping and maintaining records on and monitoring the movement of firearms and ammunition.

Chaired by Ambassador Edita Hrda, Permanent Representative of the Czech Republic to the UN in New York, the session was opened by Mr. Simeon Lesrima (Assistant Minister for Provincial Ad­ministration and Internal Security of Kenya).

Mr. Les­rima gave a presentation on the system used by Kenya to record and monitor the movement of small arms and light weapons. Mr. Jaroslav Hruska (First Deputy Minister of the Interior  for Internal Security, Czech Republic Ministry of the Interior) summarized the Czech Republic’s long history of manufacturing firearms and ammunitions, be­fore Mr. Petr Habarta (Czech Republic Ministry of the In­terior) gave an overview of the structure and efficiency of the Czech Republic’s system for marking, record-keeping and tracing SALWS.

After emphasizing the grave security challenges posed by the illicit trade of SALW to Kenya, Mr. Lesrima outlined Kenya’s efforts to implement the UNPoA. Ac­cording to Mr. Lesrima, under a Kenyan police act, all Kenyan firearms are categorized as either ‘state-owned,’ ‘civilian owned,’ or ‘authorized dealers’. Within the country, state-owned firearms movement is controlled through several mechanisms, including arms registries at respective police headquarters and daily physical inspec­tions of arms held in armories at police stations, where reports are then made. By contrast, civilian owned and authorized dealers’ weapons are registered through the Central Firearms Bureau. He noted that the record and licensing process method is controlled from the point of import (including inspection at arrival and provision of information on the manufacturer and mode of entry).

Mr. Habarta shared the current legislation used to regulate firearms and ammunition in the Czech Republic. Like Kenya, the Czech Republic categorizes all firearms (for example, category A: prohibited firearms, category B: firearms subject to authorization, category c: firearms subject to declaration, and so on). All firearms within the country are to be registered by the police or recorded by traders and retailers. Mr. Habarta bemoaned the imper­fections which exist within this current monitoring mech­anism; namely, that little Czech Republic record keeping is available online since most of it is done via paperwork, rendering the system ‘impractical, unwieldy and diffi­cult to monitor efficiently.’ As such, the Czech Republic is developing a new recording and tracing management system, the ‘Central Register of Firearms,’ to be properly implemented by 2014. As Mr Habarta explained, such an instrument is designed to enable police and businesses to keep electronic records, permitting real-time updating of data on and giving a real-time overview of the current status of firearms and ammunition within the country.

            During the Q&A session, having listened to the chal­lenges faced by the Czech Republic with respect to shifting to online record keeping, Mr. Lesrima elucidated Kenya’s own record-keeping difficulties. As he indicated, Kenya’s main problem lies in its lack of resources and small budg­et, resulting in inadequate training of personnel in the implementation of marking and legislation. He suggested this could be addressed through increased cooperation, collaboration and support from other countries. •