In July 2017, African Union has declared the month of September of each year, till 2020, as “AFRICA AMNESTY MONTH. As part of the implementation of Africa Amnesty Month in Burkina Faso, AU SAFGRAD facilitated during December 2018 two successful workshops.

– Background of “Africa Amnesty Month”

The 29th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of African Union, held on 3-4 July 2017, in Addis Ababa, has declared the month of September of each year, till 2020, as “AFRICA AMNESTY MONTH” for the surrender and collection of illicit small arms and light weapons. Among the measures called for by the Assembly is the voluntary surrender of illicit weapons in civilian possession during the Africa Amnesty Month, on the condition of anonymity and immunity from prosecution. The Assembly further called on MS, Regional Economic Communities (RECs), civil societies and the media, to widely publicize this initiative and promote adherence among communities and target groups.

In support of the Africa Amnesty Month Initiative, AU Commission has provided direct assistance to interested Member States (MS) in designing and implementing national initiatives. Assistance offered included organizing sensitization events, stakeholders consultations and training workshops aimed at building capacities for regulating arms possession; arms collection, management and disposal; community engagement; and media mobilization. The Commission intended to facilitate the exchanges of experience and lessons learned among MS.

The overall objective of the Commission’s assistance is to ensure that the Africa Amnesty Month initiative is conducted effectively, safely, and in a manner that contributes to violence reduction and stabilization. Due to the limited resources available at the pilot phase of the initiative, assistance has been extended to a limited number of MS among which Burkina Faso.

– Activities in Burkina Faso designed and implemented by CNLPAL

The National Commission to Combat the Proliferation of Small Arms and Light Weapons (CNLPAL) is the national entity in charge of the design and implementation of activities planned for the African month of Amnesty.

Support requested by Burkina Faso included sensitization of Media and Civil Society on the Africa Amnesty Month; training of Police personnel on arms management; media campaigns; production of awareness raising materials and publications; and activities relating to the collection, storage and disposal of surrendered arms. More specifically activities of training workshop and awareness campaign were held in two important places, namely Dedougou, in Mouhoun Region, and Bobo Dioulasso, in Hauts-Bassins Region. Due to various circumstances, the two activities previously planned to be held in September were finally implemented during the month of December.

– AU SAFGRAD selected by AUC to facilitate the “Africa Amnesty Month” activities in Burkina Faso

AUC Technical Office, established in Ouagadougou since 1977, AU SAFGRAD has been designated to facilitate the implementation of the activities in Burkina Faso by providing administrative assistance and support in executing the national activities.

In this regard, under the overall supervision of Dr Ahmed ELMEKASS, Head of office, and with the financial and administrative control of Mr. Issiaka OUEDRAOGO, Finance and Administrative Officer (FAO), Mr. Youssoupha MBENGUE, Senior Communication Officer, was nominated as Focal Officer of the Africa Month Initiative for Burkina Faso. Mr. MBENGUE worked closely with the Peace and Security Department (PSD) to review and finalize the proposed activities, and oversee implementation at the national level as appropriate.

   – Implementation of the activities on the ground

The Workshop in Dedougou, Mouhoun Region

Thus, the first activity was held on 4 and 5 December 2018 in Dedougou (250 kms far from the Capital City Ouagadougou), Mouhoun Region where AU SAFGRAD facilitated the organization by CNLPAL of “an awareness compaign and training workshop for the benefit of local communities, civil society organizations (CSOs) and defense and security forces in the MOUHOUN Region on the illicit circulation of fire arms”. The two-day gathering was attended by more than sixty (60) participants comprised mainly by representatives of local communities, Defense and Security Forces personnel, CSOs members, Religious leaders and other relevant stakeholders.

The Workshop in Bobo Dioulaso, “Hauts Bassins” Region

The second activity planned by Burkina Faso government through CNLPAL took place on 19-20 December in Bobo Dioulasso, second largest city of the country and 365 kms far from the Capital City Ouagadougou.

This second meeting was related to a “Training workshop on controlling artisanal explosives and firearms in the Hauts-Bassin Region”. Approximately fifty (50) participants attended the two-day workshop that noticed a massive participation of the gunsmiths from the region.

– Success of the two workshops

Both activities were very successful judging by the massive participation of stakeholders and the interest shown by various actors during the workshop sessions.

In addition, these sensitization workshops take place in a particular security context in the country affected by the violent extremism underway in the Sahelo-Saharan zone.

Ambient insecurity is pushing community associations to take security initiatives that are not always in compliance with state regulations, particularly with regard to the detention of light weapons and ammunition. Communications during the various meetings have tried to address these various challenges.

The participants, led by the representatives of the state authorities, particularly thanked African Union Commission for its valuable support in the framework of the Africa Amnesty Month Initiative.

Colonel Tapsoba CNLPAL

 Colonel Tapsoba, Head of CNLPAL, introducing Bobodioulasso workshop


 Participants during Dedougou gathering


 The Dedougou workshop


Presentation of a communication by a Police Instructor 


Local and national media interviewing Mme Ouattara in charge of Communication within CNLPAL