UNLIREC provides assistance on forensic ballistics to Guyana

From 2-7 November 2015, the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean (UNLIREC), in collaboration with the government of Guyana, carried out a three-day training course, a technical assessment of national capabilities and infrastructure, and a seminar for the institutional clients of firearms forensic ballistics in Georgetown. These included officials from the Judiciary, Ministry of Public Security and the Guyana Police force, among others.

A three-day training course on operational forensic ballistics enabled 8 participants, including firearms examiners and other specialized law enforcement personnel to increase their knowledge on topics such as firearms and ammunition identification and examination, comparison microscopy, range of fire determination and double casting. The course included a simulation of the presentation of expert testimony of forensic ballistic evidence in a court of law and provided the opportunity for participants to exchange best practices and challenges faced in the field.

The national assessment, carried out in cooperation with the Ballistics Unit of the Guyana Police Force Crime lab, 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 firearm 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 17 institutional clients 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. The seminar also benefited from the presence of the Honourable Minister of Public Security Mr. Kemraj Ramjattan who thanked UNLIREC for its current initiative and previous technical assistance to Guyana. UNLIREC staff also provided a review of best practices in forensic ballistics analysis and investigative techniques.

This initiative is part of the UNLIREC Caribbean Operational Forensic Ballistics Assistance Package, which is made possible thanks to the support of the US Department of State.

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.

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 Central America in bolstering its criminal investigative techniques

UNLIREC, as part of its efforts to support the Central American Security Strategy, is in the process of developing a training guide to help Central American governments better integrate firearms and ammunition evidence management into criminal investigative processes. For this purpose, UNLIREC convened an expert consultation in collaboration with the Judicial Police of Costa Rica. The regional consultation brought together 20 experts (13 men and 7 women) from Central American States and neighboring countries in San Jose, Costa Rica, from 13-14 February 2014.

Regional experts shared national practices, weaknesses, and jointly identified areas where technical assistance is needed in order to incorporate firearm issues into national evidence management procedures. Additionally, this expert consultation constituted a practical scenario to promote regional cooperation among participating countries. To conclude this regional consultation, a visit was made to the National Forensic Institute where participants had the opportunity to interact with firearms examiners and ballistic experts on the different procedures and testing methodologies conducted on firearms, ammunition and explosives during criminal investigations.

As part of the next phase, UNLIREC will work with Central American governments to pilot the training guide within existing national curricula.

This workshop – made possible thanks to the financial contribution of the Government of Germany – forms part of a larger UNLIREC assistance package aimed at preventing armed violence in Central America through the combat of illicit trafficking in firearms, which supports the efforts made by States to improve public security and enhance their implementation of the UN 2001 PoA on Small Arms.

For more information about UNLIREC, visit its web page [www.unlirec.com]. For any questions, contact Amanda Cowl, Political Affairs Officer, at [cowl@unlirec.org].


UNLIREC and Government of Belize strengthen national capacities in forensic ballistics

From 18 – 22 March, UNLIREC undertook a technical mission to Belize with the financial support of the British High Commission in Belmopan to provide training and assistance in the area of operational forensic ballistics. In 2012 the National Forensic Science Service of Belize received an Integrated Ballistics Information System (IBIS) from the Government of Canada, a sophisticated piece of equipment that enables the rapid comparison of spent bullets and cartridges recovered from crime scenes. In recent years Belize has experienced a marked increase in armed violence with nearly 95% of all homicides committed with firearms.

The UNLIREC technical mission began the week convening a meeting of high level officials from the executive and judicial branches to raise awareness on forensic ballistic issues. The meeting was followed by a joint UNLIREC/NFSS four-day training course on Operational Forensic Ballistics for 22 Belizean officials. The course covered crime scene management of ballistic evidence, health and safety issues, validation of evidence, forensic examination of firearms and ammunition, recording and reporting, comparison macroscopy and firearms residues tests.

Additionally, UNLIREC produced a set of fourteen Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) on Operational Forensic Ballistics to support the NFSS in its ongoing implementation of IBIS. UNLIREC will also be providing the NFSS with a detailed assessment of existing forensic ballistics capabilities and resources and future requirements to assist in long-term implementation of IBIS with a view to reducing impunity in cases of illicit trafficking and armed violence. According to UNLIREC Technical Adviser Philip Boyce ´´IBIS is the global standard equipment for forensic ballistics, but in the end must be supported by human beings capable of properly identifying firearms and ammunition, viewing evidence under a macroscope and responding to judges and prosecutors in a court of law.´´

Sound operational forensic ballistic capabilities, both electronic and manual data management systems, make important contributions in combating illicit small arms trafficking under the UN 2001 Programme of Action on Small Arms. UNLIREC, the regional arm of the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs, is based in Lima, Peru and provides technical assistance to the 33 countries of Latin America and the Caribbean.

For more information on UNLIREC visit www.unlirec.org

Please direct all questions or inquiries to: Ms. Amanda Cowl, Political Affairs Officer, cowl@unlirec.org