The United Nations Regional Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean (UNLIREC), in collaboration with the Judicial Investigation Office (JIO) of Costa Rica, delivered a Specialized Course in the Management of Small Arms and Ammunition as Evidence from 25-27 March 2015 in San Jose.

To further prepare Costa Rica’s security and justice representatives, UNLIREC trained 28 of its officials during a three-day on crime scene management and small arms and ammunition confiscation as key components for judicial proceedings, investigation and gathering of intelligence. The programme stressed the articulation and collaboration among all the actors involved in the process of ammunition and small arms custody ranging from intelligence operators and crime scene managers to prosecutors in the judicial system.

The content of the workshop included topics, such as identification and classification of small arms and ammunition; proliferation and illicit trafficking of small arms and ammunition; investigation and intelligence tools; as well as national legislation on the matter. Additionally, at the end of the course, participants engaged in a practical exercise consisting of processing a fictional crime scene in which small arms and ammunition were the main pieces of evidence. Through this exercise, participants put into practice the theoretical knowledge learned throughout the course.

An adequate gathering of information and collection of physical evidence of small arms and ammunition depends on crime scene management and the chain of custody, as well as information that could be used in the subsequent stages of the criminal investigation. Judges rely on this information to pronounce sentences on behaviour that constitutes a crime, improving the efficacy of the judicial system and avoiding impunity.

UNLIREC, within the framework of assisting Latin American and Caribbean States in the control of small arms and ammunition, has observed that errors made at the investigation site or during the handling and transporting of evidence may render evidence invalid. These mistakes preclude their use during the investigation, resulting in impunity and high expenditures within the judicial and criminal system. This specialized course was designed to respond to existing gaps in the training and education of field researchers and first responders to crime scenes.

This specialized course forms part of UNLIREC’s regional project ‘Preventing Armed Violence in Central America and the Dominican Republic through the Combat of Illicit Trafficking in Firearms’ financed by the Federal Government of Germany. By providing assistance to Latin America and Caribbean, UNLIREC contributes to improving public security and supports States implementation of the UN Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects (UN 2001 PoA).

For more information about UNLIREC, visit ( or contact Amanda Cowl, Political Affairs Officer (