From 15 – 17 March, the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean (UNLIREC) carried out a second round of forensic ballistics collaborative exercise in Jamaica.

Members of the Jamaica’s Institute of Forensic Science and Legal Medicine participated in this 3-day capacity-building exercise. The collaborative exercises are a series of practical and paper-based assessments on the competencies of: forensic examination of small arms ammunition, forensic examination of firearms and their components and trigger pull and travel examination. The exercises – based on UNLIREC’s standard operating procedures – were developed as a preparatory step for a regional framework of competency testing. These exercises may also be used as an internal assessment tool for the forensic science institutes and laboratories of the region to gauge existing gaps in skills, knowledge and procedures within Firearms Units.

These exercises form part of the third round of implementation under the framework of UNLIREC’s Caribbean Operational Forensic Ballistics Assistance Package, which is made possible thanks to the support of the US Department of State and the Government of Canada. Firearms forensic ballistic assistance is currently being implemented in Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Dominican Republic, Guyana, Jamaica, St Kitts and Nevis and Trinidad and Tobago.

This event was preceded by a complementary mission to Jamaica by UNLIREC to officially handover a bulletrax system to the Institute for Forensic Sciences and Legal Medicine on 14 March. This IBIS Bullettrax-3D System – funded by the Government of Canada – aims to boost the island’s forensic and ballistics capabilities by making it easier for analysts to compare bullets in their efforts to help solve gun crimes.

At the handover ceremony, a UNLIREC representative highlighted to national authorities that “[…]the system is going to facilitate the lab technicians and firearm examiners to trace the ammunition back to guns used in the crime, so we’re basically hoping to combat and prevent gun violence and combat illicit trafficking through the use of the system.”

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.