By HEZRON KISING
MORE than 2000 weapons have been surrendered and destroyed in the past 10 years in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville (ABG), according to a report at the National Conference on Bougainville Referendum.
The report by Dr Kylie McKenna, of the University of Technology in Sydney and United Nations (UN) observer committee, said 2051 weapons were surrendered in 2005 and another 22 guns last year through the Bougainville Peace Agreement (BPA) programme conducted by national government and ABG.
“The ABG has played a strong role in encouraging weapons disposal, ceasefire agreements, no large scale conflict in ABG communities and weapons-free zones in Panguna and other places,” the report said.
McKenna said the weapons were not used in Bougainville but there were claims that misuse did occur, mostly in relation to alcohol and drug abuse in the community.
This has enormous impact on women and children, she said.
“There is a great potential that the presence of guns and other weapons can also undermine law and order and police authority.
“BPA transition committee was working in three steps of weapons disposal process which had proven effective in the past years:
- It requires ex-combatants to disarm and surrender all weapons for storagfe in containers under the control of Bougainville Revolution Army (BRA) and Bougainville Resistance Force (BRF) united commanders and sealed and verified by the UN observer mission in Bougainville;
- Secondly, it involves company commanders placing those weapons in larger shipping containers to await a final decision on their fate; and
l Step three is the final decision to destroy all the weapons before the referendum date is confirmed.
McKenna said looking at the referendum on an international perspective, good governance in terms of democracy, public participation, transparency, accountability, respect for human rights and the rule of law were achieved when there was no weaponry conflict among people.