From 21-23 March, the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean (UNLIREC), carried out its first binational Firearms and Ammunition Evidence Management Course (EMC) in Basseterre, St Kitts and Nevis. It was the fifth EMC delivered in the Caribbean as part of UNLIREC’s Operational Forensic Ballistics (OFB) project.

The EMC responds to a need for strengthened coordination and practical training on best practices to process a scene under investigation across the region. The course also increases the knowledge base of the relevant international and national legal frameworks and examines the chain of custody process. The transnational nature of illicit firearms trafficking and gun related crimes as well as the resulting need for enhanced cooperation among security sector personnel and justice officials in Barbados and the OECS states for criminal investigations, underpin these and other types of inter-institutional training courses.

26 justice and law enforcement and judicial participants, including firearms examiners, forensic laboratory personnel, crime scene investigators, police prosecutors and public prosecutors were trained during the course. One participant noted that the course “will certainly lead to consistency in approach to the proper investigation of crime scenes”.

The EMC training was led by international subject matter experts and contained modules on ‘Firearms and Ammunition Identification’, ‘Legal Considerations in Criminal Investigations’, ‘Evidence Management at the Crime Scene’, ‘Evidence Examination and Analysis in the Laboratory’, ‘Intelligence and Investigation Tools’, as well as field exercises. Participants also benefitted from presentations by Crown Counsel, Office of Public Prosecutions, on the national legislative context to prosecute firearms-related offenses and by INTERPOL on addressing firearms trafficking, firearms tracing, and investigative tools.

The EMC is part of UNLIREC’s Caribbean Operational Forensic Ballistics Assistance Package, which is made possible thanks to the support of the governments of Canada, Germany, and 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.