From 28 – 29 May 2019, 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, conducted an Inter-institutional Roundtable Meeting to Enhance Firearms-related Investigations.
Phase 3 of the UNLIREC’s Combatting Illicit Firearms and Ammunition Trafficking in the Caribbean through Operational Forensic Ballistics, sought to identify and discuss existing gaps in the management of the lifecycle of a firearm, from the moment it is confiscated or obtained at the crime scene to court and ultimately its destruction. During the implementation of previous technical assistance in the Caribbean, distinct issues were brought to light, for instance, in some jurisdictions the communication between first responders and laboratory analysts and examiners needed to be strengthened; in other jurisdictions, it was found that ballistic intelligence leads provided to investigative units by ballistics experts are not actioned, or leads are submitted many years after the original gun crime. In one case it was found that weapons are confiscated and stored by Custom authorities were not sent for examination to ballistic experts, hence possibly allowing potential links to be missed. As such, the Roundtables were intended to enhance coordination, as well as to carry out deeper analysis among the key stakeholders to address any existing gaps and consequently reduce impunity in firearms-related cases.
Twenty participants comprising Ballistic Experts, Crime Analysts, Homicide Investigators, Executive Law Enforcement Officers, Armourers, Crime Scene Investigators, Intelligence Officers, Customs Officials, Defence Force Officials and Policy Personnel from multiple National Security agencies participated in the roundtable meeting. UNLIREC officials and participants: reviewed current practices in Trinidad and Tobago re: crime gun intelligence management – specifically ballistics intelligence; presented ways in which ballistic intelligence can be more effectively utilized; discussed the usefulness of ballistic intelligence for enhancing investigations and disrupting trafficking networks. Participants ended by developing recommendations that would assist with combatting armed violence and firearms trafficking. During the Roundtable Meeting, process flows and data on the recovery, forensic processing, international tracing, investigation, prosecution and trafficking of illicit firearms were discussed.
This Inter Institutional Roundtable Meeting in Trinidad and Tobago was made possible thanks to the support of the government of the United States of America.
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.