BUJUMBURA November 18th (ABP) – The Cabinet met at the Ntare Rushatsi State House on Wednesday November 13, with 11 items on the agenda, according to the statement issued by the General Secretary of the Government. These included the decree bill exempting illegal holders of firearms from criminal prosecution.

According to the statement, in order to concretize its participation in the process of regional and international cooperation to prevent, control and reduce the proliferation of small arms and light weapons, Burundi has implemented the law of August 28, 2009 on the regime of small arms and light weapons.

By the law of January 9, 2013, Article 61 of that law was amended to authorize the government to take, by regulatory measures, periods of exemption from criminal prosecution for illegal holders of firearms whenever the need is felt. Since then, three months of grace have been granted to illegal firearms owners to hand them over without fear of criminal prosecution.

According to the statement, the campaigns to explain the misdeeds of the possession of those weapons have been beneficial because many weapons of different types and ammunition were handed over during the period from March 2009 to December 2018. Despite those satisfactory results, weapons still abound in the people. This is evidenced by the reported incidents of violence or armed incidents, as well as discarded or abandoned weapons found in nature. This decree bill grants a period of exemption from criminal prosecution for three calendar months to any illegal holder of firearms and other related materials who will release them freely. After exchange and debate, the bill was passed with the recommendation to translate that signed decree in Kirundi and proceed to its popularization.

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