From 29 October – 1 November 2018, in Guyana and from 5 – 7 November in St Kitts and Nevis, the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean (UNLIREC), in collaboration with the Governments of Guyana and St Kitts and Nevis, conducted an assessment on the physical ballistic samples available to create open case files (OCF) in both States. OCFs are a collection of ammunition components, fired bullets, cartridge cases, etc. that derive from an ‘outstanding’ or ‘unrecovered’ firearm. OCFs assist firearms examiners in linking seemingly unrelated crime scenes where firearms were used.

Phase 3 of UNLIREC’s project on Combatting Illicit Firearms and Ammunition Trafficking in the Caribbean Through Operational Forensic Ballistics, seeks to develop physical OCFs to improve the ability of both States to link gun crimes and reduce impunity. OCFs are an obvious step to take for Police or national laboratories to collate all crime scene bullets and cartridge cases where no gun has been recovered. An OCF provides an immediate intelligence product as to whether a gun has a history of use.

UNLIREC Technical advisers together with the firearm examiners and related staff of the Guyana Police Force, Guyana Forensic Science Laboratory and Royal St Kitts and Nevis Police Force participated in the review of storage practices, unsolved crime cases and associated firearms related evidence available to create an OCF.

During Phase 1 and 2 of the Operational Forensic Ballistic assistance package, Guyana and St Kitts and Nevis received support through training in forensic ballistic Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), the development of an internal testing tool to prepare firearm examiners for proficiency testing and the procurement of a containerized test firing range (Guyana). Phase 3 in both countries focuses on the creation of an OCF and is 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.