On 19 April 2021 the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean (UNLIREC), in collaboration with the Government of Jamaica, hosted an online National Firearms Tracing Workshop.

In the Caribbean, thousands of illicit firearms are seized annually, however, not all illicit firearms are traced to identify their last known legal owners. Several factors hinder the ability of States to trace 100% of illicit firearms recovered. The age of the firearm, ineffective procedures and absence of serial numbers on firearms are three such factors. The national workshop on tracing was developed in an effort to support States’ efforts to trace firearms.

Twenty-two 22 ballistics experts, firearm technicians, police officers, laboratory directors, customs officials, Defence Force Officers and policy officials from the Ministry of National Security, Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF), Jamaica Defence Force, Institute of Forensic Science and Legal Medicine (IFSLM) and the Firearms Licensing Authority took part in the National Tracing workshop. Participants included operational police officers and analysts responsible for recovering illicit firearms, retrieving trace evidence, analysing firearm crime data, tracing firearms and collating information on criminal groups. The tracing workshop included a presentation on the establishment of a Firearms Investigation and Tracing Unit in Jamaica, and presentations from other partners including the United Kingdom’s National Ballistics Intelligence Service, the US Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives and the International Police Organization (INTERPOL).

The tracing workshop precedes a Serial Number Restoration course that to be undertaken for representatives of the JCF and IFSLM to enhance Jamaica’s capacity to successfully trace weapons. It complements other initiatives undertaken by UNLIREC to support Jamaica since its adoption of the Caribbean Firearms Roadmap. The Workshop was made possible thanks to support of the government of the United States.

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.