The United Nations Regional Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean (UNLIREC) organized in cooperation with the Government of Belize a specialized national course for legal practitioners on techniques for combating impunity in firearms related offenses in Belmopan on 3-6 March 2014.

With the goal of strengthening the operational capabilities of judges, magistrates, prosecutors, criminal investigators and representatives from the National Forensic Science Service, UNLIREC trained 20 legal practitioners on how to combat illicit firearms trafficking through the reduction of impunity and strengthen the coordination, communication and cooperation of all relevant legal operators working in this area.

The course was conducted by international instructors and national experts on firearms and ammunition classification; firearms proliferation and armed violence; international firearms instruments and national regulatory frameworks; inter-institutional and international cooperation; crime scene management and forensic ballistics. With the goal of applying the knowledge acquired, participants concluded the training course with a practical exercise consisting of conducting a preliminary court hearing of illicit firearms trafficking and possession. The practical exercise highlighted how the proper handling of the crime scene, respect for the chain of custody, inter-institutional and international cooperation tools and resources, and a suitable criminal legal framework constitute essential elements to combating impunity in the fight against illicit firearms trafficking.

This training course forms part of an overall sub-regional assistance package UNLIREC offers to Caribbean States since 2010. The assistance package contains activities aimed at improving stockpile management and weapons and ammunition destruction; providing legal assistance; and training security sector officials. This assistance was made possible with the financial support from the United States Government.

As the Regional Centre of the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs, UNLIREC serves 33 States in the region in assisting them in the development of disarmament policies and the implementation of international disarmament instruments, most notably the UN 2001 Programme of Action on Small Arms and Light Weapons.

For more information about UNLIREC, visit its web page []. For any questions, contact Amanda Cowl, Political Affairs Officer, at [].