From 6 – 10 November, the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean (UNLIREC), conducted two activities in Jamaica. The first was an Executive Seminar for eight executives of institutional clients of Forensic Ballistics on 6 November and the second, a pilot Shooting Incident Reconstruction training for seven Ballistic Experts of the Institute of Forensic Science and Legal Medicine in Kingston, Jamaica.

The Caribbean region continues to face persistent levels of armed violence, illicit trafficking of firearms and ammunition, and impunity in firearm related crimes. The increase of organized crime-related cases, sophisticated criminal networks and lack of trust in state institutions have made the general population less likely to come forward when witnessing firearms-related cases, thereby increasing the caseloads and responsibilities of firearms and tool mark examiners, crime scene officers and investigators throughout the region. Strengthening countries’ forensic ballistic investigative capabilities is essential to advancing the rule of law and to decrease impunity in firearms related cases.

The Executive Seminar with senior leadership of the Ministry of National Security discussed the recommendations made in UNLIREC’s 2015 National Assessment of Jamaica’s forensic ballistics capabilities. The seminar also reviewed the recommendations that have been implemented as well as areas for future assistance.

The shooting incident reconstruction course was designed for firearms and tool mark examiners, crime scene and other law enforcement personnel who are responsible for investigating or overseeing the investigation of shooting incidents. The course will assist national authorities to connect all the pieces of forensic evidence necessary for the reconstruction of shooting crime scenes, including: documenting physical evidence at shooting crime scenes; determining the flight path of projectiles; examining firearm discharge residue to estimate distance from the shooter to the victim/ and or final target.

The Pilot Exercise is subject to review, modification and correction by national authorities and by UNLIREC where necessary. Topics covered included health and safety in the forensic process, collecting and preserving evidence, diagraming the shooting scene, computer uses in shooting reconstruction, identifying bullet holes, determining bullet trajectory, exterior ballistics and bullet impacts and ricochet and sequence of fire, amongst others.

Equipment used in the training, resource material and reference targets with sample bullet holes were handed over to the Government of Jamaica.

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.