(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.