On 2 April, Kenya experienced its worst terrorist attack in nearly 20 years. The needless killing carried out by members of Al Shabaab clearly demonstrates the need for continued efforts to control arms flows and reduce armed violence.

“The Garissa attacks show once again that armed violence isn’t simply a word we use in speeches at the UN to spur governments into action. 147 people died in a matter of hours on Thursday. 147 stories that will not unfold. Their memories will be kept close as we continue to work to prevent armed violence around the world,”

said Ms Amran Abdundi, Executive Director, Frontier Indigenous Network based in northern part of Kenya. She continued:

“…a person dies from armed violence every minute, but when you see those minutes tick by as quick as they did on the campus of Garissa University, it becomes even more real. Those who lost lives remain in our thoughts.”

It is widely thought that Al Shabab aquires weapons through diversion A confidential report of the Somalia and Eritrea Monitoring Group leaked to Reuters last year indicated “systematic abuses” that have allowed for the diversion. The report states that there were “a number of issues and concerns over current management of weapons and ammunition stockpiles by the Federal Government of Somalia (FGS), which point to high-level and systematic abuses in weapons and ammunition management and distribution.”

Scenarios like this are precisely why provisions on diversion were incorporated into the Arms Trade Treaty. The provision requires States Parties to take steps to prevent diversion. Exporters must assess the risk of diversion as well as consider measures to mitigate against it, while importer and transit states are obligated to, share pertinent information and give assurances about who will receive weapons and how they will be used.

However, at this point, Djibouti remains the only country in the East Africa region to have signed the ATT. None have ratified or acceded despite Kenya having played a leadership role during the negotiation process at the United Nations.

Control Arms is partnering with PAX and CPS-AVIP to host a meeting in Nairobi this week to promote universalization in the sub-region. The meeting will focus on informing key government stakeholders of the value of the ATT and indicate practical steps to tackle the irresponsible arms trade at its core. In the wake of the tragedy at Garissa University, Kenya will be an obvious focus of the meeting.

Control Arms hopes the upcoming meeting will be a rallying call for the governments of the Horn of Africa and will renew their sense of purpose in combating the irresponsible arms trade.

“Kenya was a leader throughout the ATT process. Without them, the Treaty might have looked very different. Now that we have it, they’ve been silent for over two years. Atrocities like Garissa, Mandera and Westgate show that the time to delay is long over.”

Abjata Khalif, Network Chair Pajan Kenya and a journalist who covered the Garissa terrorist attack.

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