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).