UNLIREC supports national campaign to prevent pyrotechnic incidents in northern Peru

The United Nations Regional Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean (UNLIREC), as a member of the United Nations Joint Programme entitled “Strengthening Human Security and Community Resilience by Fostering the Promotion of Peaceful Coexistence in Peru”, supported the launching and development of a campaign to prevent pyrotechnic incidents in Trujillo city from 23-28 November 2015. The “Safe and Happy 2015 Celebration” campaign is an initiative of the National Superintendence for the Control of Security Services, Arms, Ammunition and Explosives for Civil Use (SUCAMEC).

This nationwide campaign includes awareness-raising activities in schools and on public roads, broadcasting of radio and television advertisements, and the distribution of informative material. As a contribution to the Joint Programme activities for Human Security in Trujillo, this campaign succeeded at increasing the awareness among youth about both the dangers of using pyrotechnics and the safety measures to be taken when using them.

The awareness campaign activities were carried out in five educational establishments and reproduced in twelve additional schools via video, reaching approximately 11 million school-aged children in Trujillo. The main messages of this campaign were “pyrotechnics are not toys”, “all pyrotechnics are dangerous”, “children should not play with pyrotechnics”, and “only adults are allowed to handle pyrotechnics”. Thanks to the support of the United Nations Volunteer Program, this activity reached a greater part of the population and invigorated the awareness campaign, contributing to the creation of a social network in Trujillo.

The United Nations Joint Programme for Strengthening Human Security, which UNLIREC forms part, supported the “Safe and Happy 2015 Celebration” campaign within the framework of other activities carried out in collaboration with public institutions and local authorities in Trujillo aimed at reducing and preventing criminal activities, gender-based violence and youth involvement in crime.

For more information about UNLIREC, visit (www.unlirec.org) or contact Amanda Cowl, Political Affairs Officer, at (cowl@unlirec.org).

UNLIREC continues forensic ballistics assistance in the Dominican Republic

From 16 to 20 November 2015, the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean (UNLIREC) carried out, in collaboration with the Government of the Dominican Republic, a three-day training course on firearms forensic ballistic Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) and a seminar on ballistic information exchange. This represents the second set of activities implemented by UNLIREC in the Dominican Republic as part of its Operational Forensic Ballistics (OFB) project for Caribbean States.

The three-day training course on Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) in forensic ballistics enabled 23 participants, including forensic experts, firearms examiners, ballistic technicians and crime scenes analysts to increase their knowledge on topics such as validation of methods and calibration of equipment; examination of firearms, their parts and components; examination of ammunition; ammunition replica double-casting; and range of fire determination. For each SOP, participants demonstrated their acquired knowledge through practical exercises supervised by a firearms expert.

The seminar highlighted the importance of sharing information and coordination among actors engaged in criminal firearms investigations. The 14 participants included representatives of the forensic and police laboratories, relevant government ministries and academia. At the seminar, UNLIREC staff provided a review of information sharing strategies and best practices. Participants identified existing challenges and opportunities for cooperation.

This initiative is part of the UNLIREC Caribbean Operational Forensic Ballistics Assistance Package, which is made possible thanks to the support of the United States and Canada.

UNLIREC, as the regional centre of the UN Office for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA), seeks to advance the cause of practical disarmament in Latin America and the Caribbean as part of its commitment to supporting Member States in their implementation of international disarmament and non-proliferation instruments, including the 2001 UN Programme of Action on the illicit trade in Small Arms.

For more information on UNLIREC visit (www.unlirec.org). Please direct all questions or inquiries to Amanda Cowl, Political Affairs Officer (cowl@unlirec.org).

UNLIREC supports Dominican Republic in draft legislation on WMD-related issues

From 29 September to 1 October 2015, a team of legal experts from UNLIREC traveled to Santo Domingo to hold a legal drafting session on UNSCR 1540 implementation with counterparts from the Dominican Republic. UNLIREC’s technical experts were accompanied by a former member of the Group of Experts of the 1540 Committee who lent support to Dominican Republic delegates from the ministries of mines and energy, defense and the customs office to draft a law prohibiting non-State actors from developing, acquiring, manufacturing, possessing, transporting, transferring, using and financing weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) and their means of delivery. The sessions also included dialogue on the establishment of adequate trade control measures for related material, as well as the adoption of effective physical accounting and protection measures for the production, use, storage and transportation of such material.

This draft bill, which is supported by several ministries and by the Office of the President, will be presented to the national parliament prior to the end of October. While the draft text is under revision, UNLIREC and the technical experts from the Dominican Republic will continue working on subsidiary legislation and additional regulations to develop certain aspects of the law, particularly those relating to the adoption of control lists, licensing and end user controls.

This draft law constitutes a significant step forward in the country’s efforts to strengthen implementation of resolution 1540 (2004), and will provide the Dominican Republic with a solid legal basis for adopting trade controls and measures to counter the proliferation of WMDSs. The creation of a national authority, responsible for overseeing the implementation of the law and authorizing the transfer of ‘proliferation-sensitive’ materials, is also envisioned in the country.

Moreover, during the visit, UNLIREC and an ad hoc committee made up of several institutions responsible for discussing and coordinating 1540-related matters, finalized the draft of the country’s voluntary national action plan. The government has indicated its intention to formally submit this plan to the 1540 Committee through the appropriate diplomatic channels. The adoption of this plan represents a substantial step towards effective implementation of the resolution, and will enable the country to establish concrete objectives, indicate its main training and technical assistance necessities to the international community, and reaffirm its commitment towards preventing WMD proliferation.

For more information on UNLIREC visit (www.unlirec.org). Please direct all questions or inquiries to Amanda Cowl, Political Affairs Officer (cowl@unlirec.org).

UNLIREC provides assistance on firearms forensic ballistics to Belize

From 19-24 October 2015, the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean (UNLIREC) carried out, in collaboration with the Government of Belize, a three-day training course on standard operating procedures awareness and an update of the technical assessment of national capabilities and infrastructure for forensic ballistics last undertaken by UNLIREC and the National Forensic Science Service in 2013. The cooperation was launched with an executive seminar for the institutional clients of firearms forensic ballistics in Belize.

The three-day training course on standard operating procedures in forensic ballistics enabled 12 participants, including forensic experts, firearms examiners and scenes of crime analysts to increase their knowledge on topics, such as bullet damaged items, range of fire, serial number restoration and others. The course included mapping and comparison microscopy exercises and understanding of wound ballistics by participating in an autopsy. This was also a key opportunity for participants to exchange best practices and challenges faced in the field.

The national assessment update, carried out in cooperation with the National Forensic Science Services, took into consideration the occupational health and safety of the firearms examiners (e.g. lead contamination), adequate protective equipment, firearms safety protocols, evidence management, as well as the continuing education plans for firearms and toolmark examiners and other laboratory personnel. The main recommendations of the assessment will be integrated in the two year capacity-building work plan for forensic ballistics.

The seminar raised the awareness of institutional clients (chief justice, heads of investigative and crime scene units, prosecutors, custom officers and magistrates among others) of firearms forensic ballistics on the strengths and shortcomings of forensic ballistics in support of building court cases, as well as in generating intelligence to identify sources and routes used for illicit arms trafficking. In addition, UNLIREC staff provided a review of best practices in forensic ballistics analysis and investigative techniques.

UNLIREC´s assistance to the Government of Belize is made possible thanks to a grant from the Government of Canada’s Anti-Crime Capacity-building Programme.

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 UN 2001 Programme of Action on Small Arms.

For more information on UNLIREC visit (www.unlirec.org). Please direct all questions or inquiries to Amanda Cowl, Political Affairs Officer (cowl@unlirec.org).

UNLIREC donates replica rubber training guns to the Judicial Investigation Department of Costa Rica

The United Nations Regional Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean (UNLIREC) donated 40 replica weapons to the Judicial Investigation Department of Costa Rica. This donation was made as a follow-up to UNLIREC’s delivery of a specialized course on the management of small arms and ammunition as evidence held earlier this year.

The course increased the participants’ knowledge of and techniques for appropriate crime scene management and the collection of firearms and ammunition as evidence in judicial proceedings, investigations, and intelligence gathering. The rubber dummy weapons were donated to be used in similar trainings where participants handle, transport, pack, and package firearms.

Given that they are identical to real firearms in size and weight, these replica weapons allow for safe and efficient simulations without detracting from the pedagogical component. Using real weapons for training can be dangerous, which makes this type of replica very useful for institutions whose tasks and responsibilities put them in contact with firearms.

The donation consists of 40 weapons (20 short and 20 long) of different types (rifles, pistols, shotguns, and revolvers), brands and models made from polymer material that are impact and rust resistant. The Judicial Investigation Department plan to use these replica guns in its trainings as of November 2015.

This specialized course forms part of UNLIREC’s regional project ‘Preventing Armed Violence in Central America through the Combat of Illicit Trafficking in Small Arms’, which is financed by Germany and Spain. By providing assistance to Latin American and Caribbean States, UNLIREC contributes to improving public security and supports States’ implementation of the UN 2001 Programme of Action on Small Arms (UN 2001 PoA).

For more information about UNLIREC, visit (www.unlirec.org), or contact Amanda Cowl, Political Affairs Officer (cowl@unlirec.org).

Guatemala strengthens its ability to implement the Arms Trade Treaty

The United Nations Regional Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean (UNLIREC) continues to support States in the region to implement the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT). On 13 October, UNLIREC and Guatemala’s Ministry of National Defence, inaugurated UNLIREC’s Arms Trade Treaty Implementation Course in Guatemala City.

The 29 participants from 8 different institutions, increased their knowledge on the classification of conventional arms, identification of trends in the arms trade, and on national control systems of exportation and importation. Following the theoretical part of the course, an interactive practical exercise was conducted on arms transfer assessments in the regional context. During this activity, a model end-user certificate was presented to participants, which succeeds at standardizing international best practices to reduce the risk of arms, ammunition, parts and components being diverted to illicit channels. The course was imparted by UNLIREC experts in collaboration with the DIGECAM legal department, which shared its national experiences.

The four-day course aims to provide States with sufficient tools to ensure the effective implementation of the Treaty so that adequate control mechanisms can be established for all international transfers of arms, ammunition and their parts and components in order to avoid their illegal diversion and their use in criminal activities.

Thanks to the financial support from donors, the course and instruction materials are available to all ratifying States in Latin America and the Caribbean. To date, 16 countries in the region have ratified the Treaty, which entered into force 24 December 2014: Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, The Bahamas, Barbados, Belice, Costa Rica, Dominica, La República Dominicana, El Salvador, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, México, Panamá, Paraguay, Santa Lucia, San Cristóbal y Nieves, San Vicente y las Granadinas, Trinidad y Tobago, y Uruguay.

For more information on UNLIREC visit (www.unlirec.org). Please direct all questions or inquiries to Amanda Cowl, Political Affairs Officer (cowl@unlirec.org).