From 26 June to 1 July 2016, the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean (UNLIREC), in collaboration with the government of Trinidad and Tobago, carried out a three-day training course, a technical assessment of national capabilities and infrastructures, and a seminar for the institutional clients of firearms forensic ballistics in Port of Spain. These clients included officials from the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service, members of the Judiciary, prosecutors, among others.

The three-day training course on operational forensic ballistics enabled 12 participants, including firearms examiners, armourers and technicians to increase their knowledge on topics, such as firearms and ammunition identification and examination, comparison microscopy, range of fire determination. 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 Trinidad and Tobago Forensic Science Centre 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 examiners and other law enforcement 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 24 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. In addition, UNLIREC staff 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.