Towards Safe Communities

"Towards Safe Communities": New Initiative Launched by Maat to Combat Arms Proliferation
Okeil: more than 700 people die every day as a result of small-arms fire
Mukhtar: We must take action to prevent further loss of lives due to SALW availability

Today, on Monday, February 12, 2024, on the sidelines of the meeting of the Preparatory Committee for the Programme of Action on Small Arms and Light Weapons from February 12 to 16, 2024, Maat for Peace, Development, and Human Rights announced the launch of a human rights initiative titled "Towards Safe Communities." The objective of this initiative is to combat the illicit proliferation of small and light weapons (SALW), given their detrimental impact on societies, particularly in conflict and armed situations. The initiative aims to restrict the flow of these weapons to terrorist organizations, armed groups, and criminal networks. Additionally, it seeks to curb illegal civilian access to weapons, as most killings are carried out using illicit firearms in the possession of civilians. The initiative also aims to enhance accountability and transparency regarding legal transfers of small arms and light weapons, as well as support states in complying with international and regional mechanisms for regulating the possession and use of these weapons. The initiative will continue until the end of the year 2024.

Ayman Okeil, an international human rights expert and Chairman of Maat, emphasizes that SALW enables a wide range of human rights violations, including murder, mutilation, sexual violence, enforced disappearance, torture, and the forced recruitment of children by armed groups. Okeil underscores that more than 700 people die every day as a result of small-arms fire. These weapons are preferred by armed groups, terrorist organizations, and criminal gangs due to their affordability, portability, and ease of concealment. Okeil states that the initiative aims to renew efforts to curb the irresponsible spread of small arms and light weapons and prevent their access by armed groups and terrorists. Every day without action results in more lives lost, grave violations committed, and civilians living in constant fear.

Muhammad Mukhtar, Director of IHL Unit the Maat, emphasizes that the availability of small arms and light weapons, along with their ammunition, contributes to sexual violence against women and girls during armed conflicts. Approximately 70 to 90 percent of conflict-related incidents of sexual violence involve the use of small arms and light weapons. One of the key objectives of the Initiative is to enhance the participation of women and girls in limiting the spread of these weapons. Mukhtar emphasizes the need for the international community to take action to prevent further loss of lives and end the state of perpetual terror in which civilians live due to SALW availability.



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