Proliferation of Illicit Firearms and Light Weapons in Kenya
17-1368 Collins K. Kirui
ENG 112C Advanced Writing
Submitted To Kithinji Kindiki
Department of Languages and Performing Arts
School Of Communication, Language and Performing Arts
12th November, 2018
Thesis: Proliferation of illicit firearms and light weapons are major source of insecurity in Kenya.
Thesis statement: Proliferation of illicit firearms and light weapons in Kenya is due to corruption, poverty, unemployment and weak domestic laws among others and have effects such as robbery, carjacking, people and drugs trafficking among others.
A. Background of the study.
1. Definition of terms
b. Small arms
c. Light weapons
2. Objective of the study
II. Main body
A. Proliferation of illicit small arms and light weapon
2. Supply and demand
III. FACTORS CONTRIBUTING TO PROLIFERATION OF ILLICIT SMALL ARMS AND LIGHT WEAPONS
A. Unemployment and poverty
C. Unskilled security personnel.
D. Weak domestic laws
IV. EFFECTS OF ILLICIT ARMS AND LIGHT WEAPON IN KENYA
A. Economic effects
B. Political effects
C. Social effects
A. Job creation and youth empowerment
B. Educating citizen on dangers of illicit firearms
C. Police-community cooperation
D. Licensing of arms
Proliferation, according to Oxford Dictionary is rapid growth or increase in numbers. In this case illicit firearms and light weapons have increase in use, production and supply within different localities in Kenya. The rapid increase is aided by weak domestic laws, inadequate security management and porous borders (Small arms Survey, 2008). Small arms, are firearms designed for individual use. They include: handguns, rifles, carbines, sub-machine guns, assault rifles and light machine guns. Light weapons are weapons which are light to carry, portable, crew-served machine guns and high-explosive projectile weapons. They include: general-purpose machine gun, medium machine guns, heavy machine guns, rifle grenades, grenade launchers, automatic grenade launchers, anti-tank rifles, recoilless rifles and rocket-propelled grenades. Small arms and light weapons are used in conflicts around the world, causing injury and death. Proliferation of small arms and light weapons is a serious threat to public safety all over the world. The United Nation Secretary General, in recent report to the Security Council (s/20018/258), recognized threat posed by small arm and light weapons by saying:
‘Small arms facilitate a vast spectrum of human rights violation, enforced disappearance, torture and force recruitment of children by armed groups of forces. More human rights abuses are committed with them than any other weapon.’
There are numerous cases of armed conflict within the cities of Nairobi, Kisumu, Mombasa and Eldoret among others, pastoral zones and emerging threats of terrorism are key indicators that there are many arms in the wrong hands. The upsurge of illicit fire arms and light weapons poses a great challenge to the government as it seeks to address increasing insecurity in the country. This research aimed at establishing the factors influencing the proliferation of small arms and light weapons into the country in order to propose practical measures of addressing the spread and effects caused by illegal ownership. The objective of this study sought to interrogate how the supply of illicit firearms and light weapon, the demand, unemployment and cost influence their proliferation. It also provide possible solutions to be undertaken by the relevant authorities, government and individual.
Indeed, firearm injury has become a major concern in Kenya’s urban centers. This is shown by a study report conducted at the Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH) on injuries caused by small arms. (Odhiambo, 2008) established that there were 717 cases of firearm injury treated at the KNH in the period January 2004 to December 2005. Four hundred twenty-one (421 or 58.7%) of these were admitted. In 2004, there were 6,300 assault cases recorded of which 6.7% had Small arms used. In 2005 reported assault cases went down by 51% to 3,079, but the use of Small arms went up to 9.7%. This is a significant increase in one year whose trend could reach alarming levels. The report concludes that gunshot injuries cause profound morbidity and significant mortality in Nairobi city.
SUPPLY AND DEMAND OF SMALL ARMS AND LIGHT WEAPONS
The supply and demand of these small arms have long been felt throughout Kenyan society. Pastoralist communities with relatively little police presence and numerous challenges such as conflict over grazing and water access for their cattle are greatly affected. This is especially so for communities in the North Eastern, Upper Eastern, and North Rift areas, which are believed to suffer excessively from high levels of illicit small arms and insecurity (Muchai, 2005). These arms find their way to other parts of the country especially the urban centres like Nairobi, Mombasa, Eldoret and Kisumu which have also suffered from the illicit trade in small arms. When illegal guns are viewed as a market phenomenon, trafficking and other illegal acquisition activities represent the supply side of the market. Supply of illicit arms is dictated by demand for the arms. For instance, criminals’ intent and a desire for self-protection primarily drive the demand side and therefore supply of arms.
CONTRIBUTING FACTORS TO PROLIFERATION OF ARMS AND LIGHT WEAPONS
Unemployment and Poverty
Unemployment has led to poverty which is the main cause of most violent crime in the Kenya today because of tough economic times which have drawn individuals to engage in various activities just to get cash to meet the basic necessities. Poverty increases the opportunity cost for the young people with less access to socially constructive activities to engage in crime. Moreover, this unfortunate group of people spends time idling and loitering in streets exposing themselves to risks of being introduced to criminal activities such as robbery. Many children are abandon by their parents in the streets of big cities in Kenya due to inability to bring them up. They are recruited by the gangsters to commit crimes as they have no source of income, which makes them unable to access basic amenities like quality healthcare, education and nutrition. Therefore, such individuals are compelled to live in poor conditions and the only option is to turn to illicit firearms and weapons to rob people through robbery with violence (Sanna, 2012).
The dramatic growth and expansion of Nairobi has brought with it a host of inherent social, economic, governance as well as environmental challenges that range from chronic insecurity, economic deprivation as evidenced by high levels of unemployment, burgeoning unplanned inner-city settlements commonly known slums, in which over 70% of the City’s population live (Hiiraan, 2012). Of all the above challenges, ubiquitous insecurity, which is characterized by worsening incidences of violence, robbery as well as carjacking remains the single most unsettling concern to its inhabitants (Police statistics, 2011). Due to all this challenges in the city, most young people purchase illicit small arms and light weapons to carry out these activities.
Kenya is ranked 154th worldwide and 35th in Africa in Transparency International’s 2010 Corruption Perceptions Index (TI, 2010, p. 14). While Kenya recorded an improvement in the 2011 East African Bribery Index as the fourth least corrupt country in East Africa, the Kenya Police was ranked as the most corrupt institution in the country and the fourth most corrupt in East Africa (TIKenya, 2011, pp. 2–3). Corrupt security officers have fuelled the supply of small illicit arms and light weapons in the country. This issue of corruption emerge due to poor payment of salary and allowances to security officers. Further, the anti-corruption laws give corruption suspects chances or opportunities to avoid facing justice before a corruption trial court. So this laws are so loose and it favors the corrupt individual who after their release, they commit the same crime of corruption.
Unskilled security personnel
Kenya’s training strategy is inferior and countering twenty first century crimes is difficult. Advanced in technology has made criminal dealers of illicit firearms and light weapons supply them with ease and not being notice by the police. Police haven’t been trained on information technology crimes such as cybercrimes. Proliferation illicit firearms and light weapons dealers find their markets through the media without being notice by the cyber security officers because they luck skills on information technology. There is poor police-community relation, participation and collaboration which has made the public not reveal any information on illicit firearms dealers. When it appears that law enforcement represents the interests of the communities in which they police, there is general harmony. When police are out of sync with these sentiments, there is discontent and dissention. Police should be trained to keep in mind that different community groups view the police differently and have varying notions of the priorities and objectives of law enforcement and criminal justice (Cordner and Scarborough, 2007).
Weak domestic laws
Kenya’s democratic status has emphasis much on human rights which has limitation on the other hand. It favors and provide safe haven for illicit arms dealers because they are allowed right to bond or bail release. Although we have tough laws, those enforcing and implementing them haven’t done enough. This has been witness by those living communities in northern Kenya and North Rift such as Samburu, Pokot, Turkana, Borana, Rendille, Somali and Gabbra, national law is not adequately enforced by Kenya police in their marginalized regions. The only option these communities have is to arm themselves for personal, communal, clan or larger family defense requirements. They do this as a defensive measure against bandits and other clans as well as to advance their own interests, as they define them (Khadiagala, 2003).
Weak border laws has allowed free movement of people with different motives and intentions into and outside Kenya. According to a study by Kamenju, (2003), Kenyan territory has been used as a conduit for arms destined for neighboring states experiencing violent conflicts. The study notes that arms from these states; Ethiopia, South Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Somali, are flowing back into Kenya as a result of porous borders.
EFFECTS OF ILLICIT ARMS AND LIGHT WEAPONS IN KENYA
The proliferation of small arms and light weapons is one of the biggest security challenges currently facing Kenya and the East African sub-region (Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya). The trafficking and wide availability of these weapons fuel instability, conflict and pose a threat, not only to security, but also to sustainable development. Widespread proliferation of small arms is contributing to alarming levels of armed crime, in both rural and urban areas, which exacerbates armed cattle rustling and conflicts in pastoralist areas. Armed violence disproportionately affects the poor population and is an important factor undermining development and poverty reduction efforts in Kenya. Chronic insecurity impedes the provision of services to the poor in the vast urban slum areas as well as in Kenya’s under-developed regions.
It has imposed severe implications for economic development and particularly for the achievement of the Vision 2030. The government of Kenya spend millions of money in dealing with insecurity caused by illegal firearms and light weapons own by the civilians. Robbery with violence, theft and trafficking are primary economic impact of illicit firearms and light weapons. According to Ender (2008), countries affected by arms proliferation spend equal amount of tax payer’s money as they spend on health. In Nairobi there is no twenty four hours business because of insecurity. Street robbery is very common and traders have lost goods to gangsters who use small arms and light weapons. This criminal acts have left a trail of death and maiming of victims most of whom for years continue to suffer from psychological trauma resulting from what they underwent during the attacks by the criminal with illicit firearms. It has caused displacement of people and generated refugee camps. This split becomes the cause of significant social division which harms the social fabric and unity negatively. Furthermore, due to the fear of attacks people try to escape from their social and professional responsibilities such that people perform their duties in a state of fear (Adan, 2005).
SOLUTIONS OF PROLIFERATION OF ILLICIT SMALL ARMS AND LIGHT WEAPONS IN KENYA.
Having seen the effects and dangers this arms proliferation has brought to the society, there are possible solution necessary to be taken by the government and the authorities to thwart the supply and use of this illicit small arms and light weapons in Kenya’s cities like Nairobi. As we have seen above, this criminal activity has led to an increase in operational costs, prices of goods and services, loss of employment and investment uncertainty as investors were fearful of future attacks in prone areas. This has contributed negatively to the economic growth and progress of government agenda like the current big four agenda of Jubilee Administration. The following are the possible solutions to be undertaken by the government of Kenya.
Job creation and youth empowerment.
Unemployment occurs when people are without work and actively seeking work. Kenya is deeply affected with high rate of an unemployment especially among the youth. Kenya is now having the most youthful population in Africa covering close to 60% to 70% of the population (Suleiman, 2011). this menace poses a great threats and induce widespread of insecurity within the generation population. As the
The Small arms and Light Weapons (SALW) has placed Kenya into an arena of warfare, insecurity conflict and destruction. It has led to underdevelopment of Kenya’s economy, rendered people homeless and refugees and loss of millions of lives. Many regions, especially Northeastern Kenya and Nairobi are counting their losses even with the many protocols and conventions signed in Nairobi to prevent the proliferation of small arms and light weapons. Some producers of the weapons are making business out of other peoples’ suffering and therefore are not willing to stop the use and supply of these illicit arms. The government war on arms dealers must bear fruits so that our society can be arms free, a place worth living without a threat of insecurity. The Kenyan problems are left for Kenyans to solve for themselves yet the cause may not have been solely Kenyan. This beg the question of collaboration with African states especially in East Africa to counter and combat the supply, use and demands of illicit firearms and light weapons. The companies that produce weapons know very well that the arms are used to destroy lives, yet they want to continue making profits. Many countries in the horn of Africa has been a region of restlessness and conflict, mainly because the arms are sneaked through some avenues from the manufacturers outside the continent. To stop conflict in pastoral regions, robbery and trafficking in the cities, we must stop the proliferation of small arms and light weapons, destroy all the stockpiles and make plowshares instead. There is need to take the Kenyan problems as our own and in need of immediate attention so that our affected neighboring countries like S. Sudan, Somalia, DRC, CAR, among others can live peacefully and together we build a continent, develop our continent and make peace with the world.
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