UNLIREC delivers virtual seminar on ‘measures to prevent armed violence against women’ in Panama

On 23 March 2021, UNLIREC, in collaboration with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Panamanian National Women’s Institute, delivered a national virtual seminar on ‘measures to prevent armed violence against women’.
The virtual seminar’s central objectives were: to explain the problems with armed violence and violence against women (VAW), to present the links between the two and their impact on society, to highlight the importance of connecting regulation of arms control to the prevention of VAW, and to promote an interinstitutional approach towards tackling and preventing gender-based armed violence (GBV) against women.

Firstly, UNLIREC highlighted the disparity between firearms’ impact on men and women at a global level, as well as a regional and national one. It also emphasised the influence of firearms on different types of GBV in the region and in Panama, including femicide. The presentation identified a firearm as a risk factor – not only because of its lethal potential – but also due to its power to threaten or suppress victims, making them more vulnerable.

UNLIREC also shared the findings of the Regulatory study on the links between regulation of gender-based violence and regulation and control of small weapons: an analysis of Central America, Colombia, Mexico and the Dominican Republic. The study analyses different countries in the region’s approach, and it recognised good work across the region as much as it did in Panama in particular. Among other measures, Panamanian rules threaten to refuse, suspend or cancel the owner’s firearm licence if they commit acts of domestic violence or are reported to have incited them.

Finally, the Panamanian National Women’s Institute (INAMU) highlighted the work they do to coordinate and carry out national policy on equal opportunities for women. During the presentation, they discussed the state of violence against women across the nation, the institutional action directed from INAMU centres, and the national challenges of improving attention and prevention of this phenomenon.

The virtual event, open to the public, was attended by over 130 people, 116 of whom identified as women. The audience included representatives from administrative institutions and national security organisations, such as the Ministry of Public Security, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, National Women’s Institute, State Prosecution Service, the National Immigration Service, the National Aeronaval Service, among other institutions, as well as civil society and academy.

This initiative forms part of a series of activities that the UNLIREC is leading to empower nations to develop and take a sensitive approach to gender in the context of reducing armed violence. The initiative was made possible thanks to funding from the Canadian government.

Here are links to a recording of the virtual seminar and the presentations.

Roundtable on challenges, best practice, and lessons learned in managing judicial arms storage facilities

As part of UNLIREC’s efforts to provide support to States in the region, on 23 March 2021, it led a roundtable on the management of firearms and ammunition in judicial storage facilities highlighting the related challenges, experiences, and lessons learned.

It is globally recognised that state storage facilities for firearms and ammunition are vulnerable, because they can become a target for criminals who are looking to arm themselves illegally. In this vein, the storage facilities that safeguard weapons and ammunition that have been confiscated, found by authorities investigating different criminal acts, or seized because of administrative offence, are no exception.

UNLIREC gathered a group of experts and technical staff from States in the region with experience in arms control, criminal investigation, chain of custody, and management of evidence in judicial storage facilities. The aim was to promote discussion on the principal challenges arising with this type of facility, as well as to exchange ideas of best practice and lessons learned in evidence management.

During the event, UNLIREC delivered a presentation outlining some of the principal challenges and the typical impact of judicial arms storage facilities in the region. As well, it presented some best practices and international standards, such as the Modular Small Arms Control Implementation Compendium (MOSAIC) and the International Ammunition Technical Guidelines (IATG), which provide instructions for strengthening management of this type of facility.

Representatives from the arms department of the Costa Rican Ministry of Public Security and from the National Agency of Controlled Materials (ANMaC) in Argentina shared background information, challenges, and detailed rules being implemented in their countries to improve the storage, registration, and control of the evidence.

Throughout the event, it was agreed that one of the most pressing requirements for effective management of the evidence is having in place specific regulatory frameworks, standardised processes, and better coordination between the institutions involved in the chain of custody. It is also important to have tools and ways of registering information that allow better control and monitoring of evidence, the right infrastructure for the protection and preservation of evidence, and continuous training for staff, among other things.

This event forms part of a UNLIREC project aimed at preventing the diversion of arms in judicial storage facilities, which is funded by the UN Trust Facility Supporting Cooperation on Arms Regulation (UNSCAR).

UNLIREC trains Royal Bahamas Police Force officials in small arms, ammunition and explosives interdiction

Between 22 and 26 March 2021, UNLIREC virtually held the Interdicting Small Arms, Ammunition, Parts and Components Course (ISAAPCC). The course was directed at Police Officials from the Royal Bahamas Police Force, who perform control and inspection functions at entry, exit and transit points in the country.

The ISAAPCC is offered as part of the technical assistance provided by UNLIREC to Latin American and Caribbean States to contribute to strengthening their capacities to combat and prevent the illicit trafficking in small arms and ammunition. This specialized course trained 16 police officials and it was delivered for the first time in Bahamas.

Based on a theoretical-practical methodology, this group of operators received training on the fundamental aspects of X-ray technology, technical specifications on small arms, their parts and components, ammunition, as well as explosives and concealment methods. Participants also received practical training via an online platform developed by the Centre for Adaptive Security Research and Applications (CASRA), whereby they developed their skills to effectively recognize these types of threats.

It should be noted that this specialized course has been designed considering international standards and good practices on the importance of continuous training for X-ray scanner operators, to achieve optimal levels of security at strategic points, thereby helping to reduce levels of firearm-related crime and violence.

This virtual edition of the ISAAPCC was made possible thanks to the financial support from the United States of America.

UNLIREC delivers virtual seminar on ‘measures to prevent armed violence against women’ in Colombia

On 18 March 2021, UNLIREC, in collaboration with the Colombian government’s Ministry of the Interior, delivered a national virtual seminar on ‘measures to prevent armed violence against women’.

The virtual seminar’s central objectives were to explain the problems with armed violence and violence against women (VAW), to present the links between the two and their impact on society, to highlight the importance of connecting regulation of arms control to the prevention of VAW, and to promote an interinstitutional approach towards tackling and preventing gender-based armed violence (GBV) against women.

Firstly, the Colombian government’s Ministry of the Interior presented the state of gender-based violence across the nation, including statistics and the regulatory framework of policy, programmes and national initiatives in place to prevent and tackle this phenomenon. During the presentation, the Ministry made special reference to its protective measures related to arms control that have been established to protect women in cases of GBV.

UNLIREC also highlighted the disparity between firearms’ impact on men and women at a global level, as well as a regional and national one. It also emphasised the influence of firearms on different types of GBV in the region and in Colombia, including femicide. The presentation identified a firearm as a risk factor – not only because of its lethal potential – but also due to its power to threaten or suppress victims, making them more vulnerable.

Finally, UNLIREC presented the findings of the Regulatory study on the links between regulation of gender-based violence and regulation and control of small weapons: an analysis of Central America, Colombia, Mexico and the Dominican Republic. The study analyses different countries in the region’s approach, and special mention was given to the region’s good work on the subject.

The virtual event, open to the general public, was attended by over 330 people, including a strong majority of women (263). The audience included representatives from administrative institutions and national security organisations, such as the Ministry of the Interior, State Prosecution Service, the Health Secretary, the Office of the High Commissioner for Peace, Office of the Attorney General, and departmental and local authorities, civil society, academy, and the United Nations System in Colombia.

This initiative forms part of a series of activities that the UNLIREC is leading to empower nations to develop and take a sensitive approach to gender in the context of reducing armed violence. The initiative was made possible thanks to funding from the Canadian government.

Here are links to a recording of the virtual seminar and the presentations.

Canada contributes to implementation of ‘Caribbean Firearms Roadmap’ aimed at combating illicit trafficking in arms and ammunition

Canada’s Global Affairs’ Anti-Crime Capacity Building Program (ACCBP) provided a 2-million-dollar grant at the beginning of 2021 to the UN Regional Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean (UNLIREC) to support Caribbean States in their implementation of 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’. Through this initiative, Canada is strengthening regional cooperation to build a stronger more resilient region, as well as safeguarding the security of Canadians and Canadian interests at risk, both at home and abroad.

The Roadmap – under which the Canadian-funded project will be carried out – is made up of four Goals: (1) reinforcing regulatory frameworks; (2) reducing the illicit flow of firearms and ammunition; (3) bolstering law enforcement capacity; and (4) decreasing the risk of diversion of firearms and ammunition. The main technical implementing partners are UNLIREC and CARICOM IMPACS.

The over 30 Canadian-funded project activities range from specialized courses for law enforcement officials on detecting arms and ammunition illegally entering or exiting their countries to how to conduct the ‘gendered’ investigation of crimes against women. To complement these capacity-building initiatives, UNLIREC will also deliver operational tracing courses; trainings on how best to manage firearms and ammunition being stored as evidence at ballistic laboratory depots; and a region-wide technical armoury management workshop at project end.

Efforts to make the Caribbean region a safer one – through implementation of the Roadmap – is being supported by other members of the international donor community, in addition to Canada,
including the Federal Republic of Germany, The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and the United States of America. This multiple-donor funding to UNLIREC will allow for a strategic division of labour on the ground and avoid any duplication of funding.

Since 2010, Canada has contributed more than 10 million Canadian dollars to UNLIREC in addressing the scourge of illicit arms and ammunition trafficking in a sub-region that suffers inordinately from the catastrophic impact of armed violence.

UNLIREC forms part of the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA) in NY, USA, and is mandated to support 33 States in Latin America and the Caribbean in achieving and maintaining peace and security through disarmament. For more information on the Caribbean Firearms Roadmap, please contact, Ms Amanda Cowl, Political Affairs Officer, at [cowl@unlirec.org].

UNLIREC holds National Tracing Workshop and Serial Number Restoration Course for Trinidad and Tobago

On 15 March 2021 and then from 16 – 19 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 online National Firearms Tracing Workshop followed by in person Serial Number Restoration Course.

In the Caribbean, 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. Obliterating serial numbers on firearms is a common practice for criminals to mask their origin and facilitate trafficking and illegal use. The national workshop on tracing and serial number restoration were developed in an effort to support States’ efforts to trace firearms and to address the fact that the forensic firearms scientist is often required to restore the characters and numbers that have been removed from firearms in a variety of ways.

Fifty-three firearm examiners, firearm technicians, police officers and scientific officers from the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service, Forensic Science Centre, Strategic Services Agency and Ministry of National Security 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. Twelve Police Officers took part in the Serial Number Restoration course which consisted of hands-on use of Magnaflux and Chemical Etching Methods to recover obliterated serial numbers from firearms.

Serial restoration has proven to be a key and necessary tool to conduct tracing and make use of the various regional and international tracing platforms. Throughout the region, restoration techniques have been used to support criminal investigations and successfully trace weapons and even disband trafficking networks.

This course complemented recent initiatives undertaken by Trinidad and Tobago including its adoption of the Caribbean Firearms Roadmap. The activities were made possible thanks to support of the government of the United Kingdom and included experts from the UK’s National Ballistics Intelligence Service, the US Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives and the International Police Organization (INTERPOL).

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.