On 4 March 2014, the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean (UNLIREC) held a legal seminar on implementing the international firearms agreements in Belmopan. The seminar was addressed to legal affairs officials from the Ministry of National Security, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Attorney’s General Ministry, the Department of Public Prosecutions, Magistrates Court, Belize Police Department and National Forensic Science Services.

UNLIREC presented a comparative analysis between Belize’s legislation with existing international firearms obligations highlighting the progressive elements and crossed-checking and referencing against the country’s obligations under the various firearms-related international instruments, including the UN 2001 PoA on Small Arms and Light Weapons; UN Firearms Protocol; CIFTA Convention; and the International Tracing Instrument. UNLIREC also offered its legal expertise on the subject matter to conduct an assessment on future proposed amendments to the national firearms act and other relevant legislation, if the Government deems this appropriate.

This legal seminar aims at strengthening national efforts to implement the firearms international agreements, as well as accelerating national review and reform processes needed to modernize the national firearms acts and other related legislation, as well as reduce legal loopholes that can be used by criminals to commit firearms-related offenses.

Different State agencies discussed firearms legal frameworks and shared information and anecdotes on how the laws are being enforced in practice and what law enforcement agents – who are operationalizing the laws – perceive as the challenges and gaps posed by national legislation (e.g. low penalty charges, insufficient search and seizure powers, and lack of criminalization of certain firearms-related activities, among others).

This activity was made possible thanks to the financial support of the United States Government.

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