In 2012, it was reported that a total of 300,000 small arms and light weapons had been smuggled into Uganda and other East African community countries.
The Ministry of Internal Affairs has asked those who could have acquired the guns by mistake or through certain influence to voluntarily surrender the weapons.
The acting head of Uganda National Focal point on Small Arms and Light Weapons Florence Kiribira, said anyone who surrenders these illegal guns will not be prosecuted.
Kiribira made the plea on Tuesday at Hotel Africana during the launch of a programme dubbed 'For your family and community voluntary disarmament’.
She encouraged the people to surrender such weapons to religious leaders or any other leader in the community since majority of them fear arrests.
"We are only interested in retrieving illegal guns from people, once a gun has been surrendered, we don’t have a reason to follow up any person,’ Kiribira said
The programme aims at encouraging Ugandans to surrender illegal small arms. It is being piloted in Uganda, South Sudan and Kenya.
"By nature of our work, before you take on a gun, you have to go through rigorous training on the use and handling. How can a civilian who has never undergone any basic training, hold a gun, “Kiribira wondered
Philip Ouma director finance and administration for Regional Centre and Small Arms (RECSA), stressed that everyone should play a role in recovering the illegal fire arms.
However, Ouma said the surrender will not be in exchange for money.
"We want you to surrender illegal small arms so that you are a hero and that Ugandans can benefit from you.’’ Ouma said
Uganda is among the fifteen member states that established RECSA.
Ouma said "We are proposing drop boxes in the next project were people can drop the small weapons but for meantime, people can surrender at churches, Police and community leaders,’’ he said
Uganda is an example in the region for being the most successful in disarmament exercise that took place in Karamoja.
Kiribira lamented that they are faced with the challenge of increasing demand for fire arms in the country.
Recently, the Inspector General of Police suspended the licensing of fire arms because of increased demand.
She remarked, "We have open borders where most of the guns find their way in and out. We are trying to strengthening the enforcement and detective arm to some of the weapons that keep in and out of the country."
In 2012, it was reported that a total of 300,000 small arms and light weapons had been smuggled into Uganda and other East African community countries for the last 10 years.
It was also reported that importation of illegal small arms was high in East Africa due to existing arms embargoes which are too easy to break or ignore by different countries.
The executive secretary eastern Africa on small arms and light weapons, Richard Mugisha said voluntary disarmament would save lives of Ugandans.