UNLIREC holds National Tracing Workshop and Discussion on Firearms Tracing Unit with Jamaica

On 19 April 2021 the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean (UNLIREC), in collaboration with the Government of Jamaica, hosted an online National Firearms Tracing Workshop.

In the Caribbean, thousands of illicit firearms are seized annually, however, not all illicit firearms are traced to identify their last known legal owners. Several factors hinder the ability of States to trace 100% of illicit firearms recovered. The age of the firearm, ineffective procedures and absence of serial numbers on firearms are three such factors. The national workshop on tracing was developed in an effort to support States’ efforts to trace firearms.

Twenty-two 22 ballistics experts, firearm technicians, police officers, laboratory directors, customs officials, Defence Force Officers and policy officials from the Ministry of National Security, Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF), Jamaica Defence Force, Institute of Forensic Science and Legal Medicine (IFSLM) and the Firearms Licensing Authority took part in the National Tracing workshop. Participants included operational police officers and analysts responsible for recovering illicit firearms, retrieving trace evidence, analysing firearm crime data, tracing firearms and collating information on criminal groups. The tracing workshop included a presentation on the establishment of a Firearms Investigation and Tracing Unit in Jamaica, and presentations from other partners including the United Kingdom’s National Ballistics Intelligence Service, the US Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives and the International Police Organization (INTERPOL).

The tracing workshop precedes a Serial Number Restoration course that to be undertaken for representatives of the JCF and IFSLM to enhance Jamaica’s capacity to successfully trace weapons. It complements other initiatives undertaken by UNLIREC to support Jamaica since its adoption of the Caribbean Firearms Roadmap. The Workshop was made possible thanks to support of the government of the United States.

UNLIREC, as the regional organ of the UN Office for Disarmament, seeks to advance the cause of practical disarmament in Latin America and the Caribbean as part of its commitment to support Member States in their implementation of international disarmament and non-proliferation instruments, in particular, the 2001 UN Programme of Action on Small Arms.

UNLIREC and CARICOM IMPACS hold Executive Seminar for the Advancement of Suriname’s National Action Plan for the implementation of the Caribbean Firearms Roadmap

On 13 April 2021, the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean (UNLIREC) and the Caribbean Community’s Implementation Agency for Crime and Security (CARICOM IMPACS), in collaboration with the Government of Suriname, and the Government of Germany, hosted a virtual Executive Seminar for the Advancement of Suriname’s National Action Plan for the implementation of the Caribbean Firearms Roadmap.

On January 22, 2021 CARICOM officially adopted the ‘Roadmap for Implementing The Caribbean Priority Actions on the Illicit Proliferation of Firearms and Ammunition across the Caribbean in a Sustainable Manner by 2030’ (Caribbean Firearms Roadmap), which consolidates and builds upon the 2019 actions adopted by Caribbean Heads of Governments on addressing the illicit trafficking of firearms in the region.

Suriname, has initiated concrete actions contemplated in the Caribbean Firearms Roadmap by taking steps to create its National Action Plan (NAP). A total of 16 representatives of the Ministry of Defence, , National Security, Police Force, Public Prosecution and Customs Department along with members of the German Embassy, UNLIREC and CARICOM IMPACS participated in the NAP Executive Seminar. Participants discussed the Roadmap and steps needed to map out Suriname’s priorities, plans and timelines for implementing the Caribbean Firearms Roadmap. The successful implementation of the Roadmap will require both the concerted efforts of national authorities, as well as the timely, targeted and coordinated support of regional and international partners and donors. The Roadmap serves as a base document for Suriname in the elaboration of its National Action Plan (NAP).

UNLIREC and CARICOM IMPACS, as the main implementing partners, will lend technical assistance in the elaboration of the NAPs and in their successive implementation. The governments of Canada, Germany, United States of America and the United Kingdom have pledged support to the implementation of the Caribbean Firearms Roadmap.

UNLIREC, as the regional organ of the UN Office for Disarmament, seeks to advance the cause of practical disarmament in Latin America and the Caribbean as part of its commitment to support Member States in their implementation of international disarmament and non-proliferation instruments, in particular, the 2001 UN Programme of Action on Small Arms.

UNLIREC delivers Specialized Course on Firearms Investigations from a Gender Perspective for officials from El Salvador

From 6-16 April 2021, the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean (UNLIREC), in collaboration with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of El Salvador, delivered the Specialized Course on Firearms Investigations from a Gender Perspective (FIGP).

The course, as well as helping to sensitize participants on the importance of the gender perspective in tackling crimes committed with firearms, strengthens the technical knowledge of the scientific method of criminal investigation and interinstitutional cooperation in these fields.

36 (thirty-six) people appointed by the Supreme Court of the Nation, the Attorney General’s Office, the National Academy of Public Security (ANSP), and the National Civil Police were trained. Notable participants were: judges specializing in sentencing and training for a life free of violence and discrimination against women; prosecutors from the unit for crimes related to life and bodily harm, and from the unit specialized in gang crime and homicides; national police officers, including from the Gender Unit, the Forensic Science Technical Subdirectorate, Case Control, Discipline and Support for Investigations. Officials from ANSP, the Division of Professional Development, and the Division of Studies, among other areas, also participated.

The diverse nature of the group emphasized one of FIGP’s objectives: strengthening staff coordination and cooperation to optimize individual and collective efforts to tackle crimes related to violence against women and firearms.

The course was carried out virtually and was separated into six interactive conferences, in which participants could present their experiences and talk to UNLIREC instructors. The conferences addressed theoretical and technical aspects of criminal investigation and the way in which the gender perspective as a method of analysis helps us reach conclusions free from stereotypes, grounded in objective technical or scientific studies that are based on relevant theory. Case studies were conducted to highlight the absence of a gender perspective, which violates the rights of victims and their families.

During the training, emphasis was placed on the use of firearms to commit different types of violence against women, not only as a murder weapon, but also as a means to threaten, intimidate and coerce. The training stressed the importance of the correct management of a crime scene and of firearms and ammunition as physical evidence in investigations from a gender perspective. The course shared good practices with participants and urged them to strengthen interaction and cooperation across the different stages of judicial investigation, to optimize individual and collective efforts to tackle crimes related to firearms with special attention given to cases of gender-based violence. This helps to reduce levels of impunity and improves justice and security institutions.

This course forms part of the ‘Support for the integration of the gender perspective in politics, programmes and action in the fight against trafficking and the misuse of small arms’ project, funded by the European Union.

UNLIREC promotes synergies between the Agendas for Disarmament and Women, Peace and Security in the framework of the Generation Equality Forum

On 29 March, UNLIREC participated as a panelist in one of the Gender Equality Forum’s thematic sessions on “Crises in achieving gender equality in peace, security and humanitarian action”.

Launched in Mexico last month, the Generation Equality Forum is a global meeting for gender equality. Convened by UN Women and co-chaired by the Governments of Mexico and France, there is also leadership and participation from civil society. The event takes place 25 years after the Fourth World Conference on Women and the adoption of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, enabling a review of progress and the creation of a platform that proposes concrete measures to advance gender equality by 2030. The Forum will culminate in France in June 2021.

The Generation Equality Forum promotes, among other actions, the Compact on Women, Peace, Security and Humanitarian Action, designed to foster the implementation of existing commitments. Within this context, the sessions “Crises in achieving gender equality in peace and humanitarian action” were held from 29 to 31 March. The sessions were aimed at enhancing coordination efforts for the implementation of the Women, Peace and Security Agenda, as well as understanding and strengthening links with underlying agendas, such as youth, peace and security; protection of human rights and environmental defenders; disarmament and non-proliferation of small arms; trafficking in small arms and light weapons; mediation and peaceful resolution of conflicts; the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, among others.

During the event, UNLIREC emphasized the need to make connections between the themes of peace, development, security and humanitarian action, as well as the need for platforms enabling spaces of convergence between these themes and all the actors involved in these issues, stressing the key role played by the Generation Equality Forum. The key instruments in enabling this are The United Nations Secretary General’s Disarmament Agenda, the 2030 Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals and, on issues of women’s participation in disarmament, nuclear non-proliferation and arms control, the United Nations Assembly Resolution 65/69.

UNLIREC also highlighted the issue of arms control as central to all development issues, impacting all the Sustainable Development Goals, including gender equality, health, education, economy, among others.

Needless to say, well-established arms control measures enable more opportunities to promote sustainable development. Disarmament and small arms control not only contribute to significantly reducing all forms of violence and related death rates worldwide, but also to eliminating all forms of violence against all women and girls in the public and private spheres. Small arms, besides being used to commit femicide, are also a tool to exercise control and subjugation through threats, causing psychological damage to the victims.

Other panelists made special reference to the increase of domestic violence during the COVID-19 confinement and the need to offer a comprehensive approach to victims (psychological support, shelter, education, work opportunities).

UNLIREC notes the importance of raising awareness of firearms in violence against women and to include initiatives aimed at firearms control both in the urgent responses that are being implemented in the context of the pandemic, as well as in other strategies.

UNLIREC also notes the need for more female representation on such matters, particularly in key decision-making roles.

The initial phase of the Generation Equality Forum in March also served as a platform to launch a series of “Action Coalitions” aimed at driving investment and delivering tangible results for gender equality during the UN Decade of Action (2020-2030). These Action Coalitions are focused on 6 themes, including gender-based violence; economic justice and rights; bodily autonomy; sexual and reproductive health and rights; feminist action for climate justice; technology and innovation for gender equality; and feminist movements and leadership.

UNLIREC holds Inter-Institutional Round Table Meeting for Trinidad and Tobago

On 29 March 2021, the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean (UNLIREC), in collaboration with the Governments of the United Kingdom and Trinidad and Tobago, hosted an Inter-Institutional Round Table Meeting to advance the development of Trinidad and Tobago’s National Action Plan (NAOP).

Trinidad and Tobago has made consistent advances in reviewing the actions in the Caribbean Firearms Roadmap and identifying national priorities for its NAP since adopting the Roadmap. After its initial Executive Seminar, national authorities on their own, and with UNLIREC, have hosted several drafting sessions to identify national priorities under each of the Goals in the Roadmap and complete its NAP template.

Goal 4, of the Caribbean Firearms Roadmap is systematically decrease the risk of diversion of firearms and ammunition from government and non-government owned arsenals. On this occasion, UNLIREC supported Trinidad and Tobago by hosting a thematic Inter-Institutional Roundtable to discuss Goal 4 and stockpile management. The meeting brought together the national drafting team that included 19 representatives from Trinidad and Tobago Police Service, Forensic Science Centre, Strategic Services Agency and Ministry of National Security. UNLIREC’s technical experts participated and delivered technical presentations on best practices and international standards for stockpile management to help the NAP development.

The Inter-Institutional Round Table Meeting complemented recent initiatives undertaken by Trinidad and Tobago following its adoption of the Caribbean Firearms Roadmap, and which were made possible thanks to support of the government of the United Kingdom.

UNLIREC, as the regional organ of the UN Office for Disarmament, seeks to advance the cause of practical disarmament in Latin America and the Caribbean as part of its commitment to support Member States in their implementation of international disarmament and non-proliferation instruments, in particular, the 2001 UN Programme of Action on Small Arms.

UNLIREC and Government of Haiti hold workshop on firearms classification

On 26 March, UNLIREC and the Government of Haiti held an online workshop to provide the government with technical assistance on firearms classification. This workshop forms part of a broader support to the Haitian authorities’ ongoing commitment to modernize their national legal framework on firearms, parts, components, ammunitions and explosives, an issue considered a priority by the government of Haiti.

In the context of the current legal and technical drafting assistance provided by UNLIREC, a specific need was identified on firearms classification. The objective of this workshop was to establish a common language for the drafting process on firearms, parts, components and ammunitions. The 18 participants (which included government representatives and civil society organizations) were given information, recommendations and useful tools, mainly for them to be able to define and identify the different types and characteristics of firearms. As a result, those leading the drafting process can decide of firearms to which civilians should have access to, and the ones that should be prohibited or restricted.

This activity forms part of a project entitled “UNLIREC Technical Assistance Package for Weapons and Ammunition Management in Haiti” and funded by UNDP and the Peacebuilding Fund. The project has also previously run other similar initiatives including legal workshops on international instruments on firearms and ammunition control and recommendations for improving Haiti’s current legal framework.

This activity brought together the legal task force responsible for drafting the decree on this issue, civil society organizations, UNPOL, UNDP, BINUH and UNLIREC. The task force is made of the following Haitian government entities: Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Defense, Armed Forces, National Police, National Disarmament and Dismantling and Reinsertion Commission and Customs Administration. UNLIREC has offered to coordinate a technical follow-up session on firearms classification to strengthen national capacity and enable the drafting of the decree’s relevant provisions.