UNLIREC and Jamaica fight crime by destroying thousands of weapons and offering training in the fight against illicit trafficking

(Kingston) – As part of the project currently being implemented in the Caribbean, UNLIREC and the Government of Jamaica carried out the destruction of approximately 2,000 firearms. The event, which took place on 7 February at a cement factory in Kingston, was coordinated and executed in conjunction with the Jamaican authorities. As is the case with all weapons destruction events in which UNLIREC is involved, the process complied with all international requirements for safety and verification. Part of the weapons destroyed were seized during lawenforcement operations. The remainder included obsolete weapons, which belonged to the police and armed forces. Within the coming weeks, UNLIREC will provide the Government of Jamaica with hydraulic shears especially adapted to disable the seized and obsolete firearms until such time as they are destroyed, thus avoiding their possible re-entry into illicit trafficking rings.

Additionally, 12,000 rounds of ammunition were destroyed on 10 February at the Jamaica Police Academy using a tank specifically-designed for the safe destruction of ammunition while ensuring minimal environmental impact. Jamaica is the third such country to use this tank, which has already been implemented by UNLIREC in Ecuador and Trinidad and Tobago.

During the weapons-destruction ceremony, Jamaica’s Minister of National Security, Peter Bunting, stated that “the destruction of these weapons will help reduce the risk of diversion to illicit trafficking.” The Minister, in thanking UNLIREC for the assistance being offered to Jamaica, noted that “The Ministry of National Security considers these actions important first steps towards effectively monitoring and regulating the number of
firearms available for illicit use. Gun crimes represent a major threat to the safety and security of our society, so we’re therefore grateful for the meaningful support to help reduce the availability of firearms and thus help to protect our democracy.”

Additionally, as part of this project, UNLIREC conducted an Inter-Institutional Training Course on Combating Illicit Firearms Trafficking (IITC) which resulted in the training of 60 officers with direct responsibility in the fight against illicit firearms trafficking. As a direct impact, these agents will be better equipped to combat the illicit trafficking of firearms, ammunition and explosives, prevent legal weapons from entering illicit trafficking rings and reduce the levels of impunity among arms dealers.

Jamaica has one of the highest firearmrelated homicide rates in the region. The initiatives undertaken by this island State demonstrate their commitment to the fight against illicit trafficking and reducing armed violence on the Caribbean island. In recent years, the quality of weapons used by criminal groups in Jamaica has been equal to or has surpassed what the law enforcement authorities possess. This has resulted in an increase in fatal crimes.

Over the past year, UNLIREC has been working with the Government of Jamaica to develop a national action plan on stockpile management and firearms destruction. The project activities outlined in this plan will be carried out throughout the year. The implementation of this action plan, funded by the Governments of Canada and the United States, includes the delivery of tools to improve the security of national stockpiles, develop training courses for combating illicit firearms trafficking and improving stockpile management and firearms destruction. Legal assistance will also be improved so that legislation may be harmonized with the related provisions found in the various international disarmament-related instruments.

UNLIREC launches its 2012 firearms activities in Central America

(El Salvador and Guatemala) – UNLIREC’s Director, Ms Mélanie Régimbal, met with national authorities in El Salvador and Guatemala to launch UNLIREC’s 2012 small arms control activities. All UNLIREC activities forming part of its “Preventing Armed Violence in Central America through the Combat of Illicit Trafficking in Firearms” are aligned with SICA’s Central American Security Strategy. In particular with three of the four security pillars: crime reduction, violence prevention, and institutional strengthening.

States to ensure the rapid and effective implementation of the Strategy. In this regard, UNLIREC is implementing a regional project focused on firearms control and prevention of illicit firearms trafficking. These initiatives, which include capacity-building for law enforcement and judicial operators, stockpile management, and firearms policy support, are made possible thanks to the financial contributions of Finland, Germany and Spain.

Central America continues advancing the implementation of its Security Strategy

El Salvador – On 16 December, Central American Heads of State and Government held the XXXVIII Regular Meeting in San Salvador, El Salvador, where they reaffirmed their commitment to advance regional integration and jointly seek to address the serious problems affecting the region. In this sense, participants expressed their determination to continue working together to implement the Security Strategy.

In the Declaration and Work Plan signed in San Salvador, the Heads of State and Government urged the General Secretariat of SICA to continue negotiations with the “Group of Friends” and international organizations to begin implementing the projects identified as priority, including, inter alia, gun control and armed violence prevention. In this sense, the Work Plan proposes the development of a roadmap that clearly and precisely identifies the steps to follow to achieve full implementation of the Strategy.

The 2012 Work Plan also establishes the creation of a Financial Management Mechanism that guarantees the identification of funds and their proper distribution. The Coordinating Evaluation and Monitoring Mechanism of the Security Strategy will remain in charge of general coordination.

UNLIREC, one of the international organizations present at the International Conference, expressed its support to SICA’s the General Secretariat in achieving prompt and effective implementation of the Strategy. In this context, and in response to requests received from Central American States, UNLIREC has developed a sub-regional assistance package focusing on arms control and the prevention of illicit trafficking. Some countries, such as Germany and Australia, have already expressed their interest in the proposal. The implementation of which would be coordinated by the Central American authorities.

The Central American Security Strategy has four main themes: combating crime; violence prevention; prison rehabilitation, reintegration and security; and institutional strengthening, all coordinated in a comprehensive manner to better address the problem of armed violence facing the sub-region. The Security Strategy was adopted by the Heads of State and Government of SICA in 2007, which was re-vitalized following the International Conference in Support of the Strategy held in Guatemala in June, which included a large representation of states and international organizations.

UNLIREC carried out its first specialized course for legal practitioners in Peru

Lima- As part of UNLIREC’s strategy to support countries in the region, the first Specialized Training Course for Legal Practitioners and Judicial Officials on Combating Impunity in the Illicit Trafficking of Firearms, Ammunition and Explosives, developed by UNLIREC’s in-house legal team, was carried out between 5 and 7 December. This course was supported by the Government of Peru, through the National Commission against the Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms, Ammunition, Explosives and Other Related Materials (CONATIAF) and the School of the Public Prosecution Office.

The main purpose of the course is to provide knowledge, tools and technical and practical instruments to legal operators in their daily fight against illicit trafficking in firearms and ammunition and explosives. The course also seeks to support the fight against the impunity in these types of cases and to strengthen the coordination and cooperation of legal practitioners working in the field of arms control. One of its strategic objectives is to ensure that public academies incorporate the course content into their curricula with a view to promoting institutionalization and sustainability over time; this has been successfully achieved in Peru, since the School of the Public Prosecution Office announced that the modules of the course will now form part of its academic training programme.

The course brought together 28 members of the Public Prosecution Office, the judiciary, the Peruvian National Police, the General Directorate of Security Services Control, Arms Control, Ammunition and Explosives for Civil Use (DICSCAMEC), the CONATIAF as well as members of Military Court. It should be noted that over 20% of participants were women, showing the increasing role of women in the fight against illicit firearms trafficking. The course culminated in a practical exercise, which simulated a real-life scenario in which the participants had the opportunity to put into practice everything they had learned during the theoretical part of the course.

National and international instructors and representatives from the School of the Public Prosecution office, the DICSCAMEC and the National Institute of Legal Medicine of Colombia, as well as UNLIREC’s team of experts participated in this activity, which was made possible thanks to the support from the Government of Canada.

UNLIREC and the Ecuadorian Armed Forces joined forces in the destruction of ammunition

(Quito) – As part of its commitment to promote initiatives in the area of disarmament, on December 7, the Armed Forces of Ecuador, with technical assistance from UNLIREC, destroyed 11,721 munitions decommissioned by the Army. The destruction took place in the east of Quito, in facilities provided by Santa Barbara.

Previously, the Deputy-Defense Minister, Rosa Pérez, had officially received the tank which was used in the destruction ceremony and which, according to her, “was built according to high-level technical specifications approved by the General Assembly of the United Nations and which is starting to be implemented in other countries, Ecuador being the first nation in South America to have equipment of this nature”.

The tank can destroy up to one tonne of small caliber ammunition in each session and it does not exert a negative impact on the environment whatsoever, as the waste can be recycled. The Ecuadorian authorities expressed interest in building more tanks with the same characteristics so that they can be distributed across the country, thus allowing for improved management of ammunition destruction.

Following the destruction of ammunition, a seminar on stockpile management was held at the Ministry of Defense, as part of the procedure of certification and compliance with the United Nations’ international technical rules. According to the Deputy Minister, this training “seeks to strengthen the knowledge already possessed by the Armed Forces personnel in the field of destruction of ammunition and, at the same time, generate appropriate measures that guarantee security and the proper handling of firearms, ammunition and explosives in Ecuador”.

The Canadian ambassador in Ecuador, Andrew Shisko, emphasized that “this course is an example of the importance of security for the region”. The training provided by the Government and UNLIREC contributes to the “improvement of the security of all citizens of Ecuador”. The Andean Project advisor of UNLIREC’s Public Security Programme, Camilo Duplat, stated that “the destruction of stockpiles is essential to prevent seized weapons, ammunition and explosives from being diverted into illegal activities. It is a means of contributing to the destruction of surplus weapons and to the prevention of accidents”. These activities form part of UNLIREC’s comprehensive assistance package to the States of the Andean Community, with the support of the Government of Canada.

UNLIREC and the Dominican Republic united in the fight against illicit firearms trafficking

(Santo Domingo, November 2011) – The Ministry of State for the Armed Forces was the scene of UNLIREC´s Inter-institutional Training Course on Combating Illicit Firearms Trafficking (IITC), in Santo Domingo, held from 21 November to 2 December in response to requests for assistance from the Dominican authorities. In the same context, the international seminar entitled Combating Illicit Trafficking in Firearms: Control Measures and Regulations was also undertaken in the capital city on 24 November. Both activities were carried out thanks to the support of the Government of Sweden.

During the opening ceremony, UNLIREC’s Director, C. Mélanie Régimbal, indicated that providing security is necessary to “promote investment in and the sustainable development of a State”. In this regard she ensured that the strengthening of national capacities through initiatives like the IITC, which has improved the training of more than 3,000 security sector personnel throughout the region, is an effective and safe way to attain this goal. The Chief Directorate of Intelligence of the Ministry of Defense of the Armed Forces, Luis Ramón Payan Areché, believes that one of the greatest advantages of the course is that officers work together in addressing the problem and prepares them to become training instructors in their own institutions.

The international seminar organized by the Commission of the Interior and Police from the Chamber of Deputies follows the legal assistance provided by UNLIREC in January 2011 when a legal dictum (opinion) was made on the current bill. On this occasion, a delegation of experts from UNLIREC appeared before the House of Representatives to share its knowledge on firearms classification, as well as promote the usefulness of disarmament campaigns and the importance of international firearms instruments.

UNLIREC’s legal expert, Sonia Fernández, delved into the most important aspects of the legal dictum and emphasized that as a party to various international instruments, the Dominican Republic is responsible for undertaking the necessary measures for their effective implementation.

The Coordinator of the United Nations System in the Dominican Republic, Valerie Julliand, encouraged the representatives to approve a legal framework to better control the possession and bearing of weapons with the aim of improving citizen safety. The president of the Commission of the Interior and Police, Elpidio Baez, said in her speech that both the legal dictum prepared by UNLIREC and the report from the international seminar will be taken into account in drafting the law on possession and bearing of firearms that the Commission of the Interior and Police is currently considering.The Coordinator of the United Nations System in the Dominican Republic, Valerie Julliand, encouraged the representatives to approve a legal framework to better control the possession and bearing of weapons with the aim of improving citizen safety. The president of the Commission of the Interior and Police, Elpidio Baez, said in her speech that both the legal dictum prepared by UNLIREC and the report from the international seminar will be taken into account in drafting the law on possession and bearing of firearms that the Commission of the Interior and Police is currently considering.