- as locals undergoing training to combat trafficking in firearms, ammunition and explosives
“The United States is not in a position to lecture anyone on how to prevent illicit firearms trafficking…” Deputy US Ambassador
Local legal practitioners are undergoing specialized training to make them more equipped to combat the illicit trafficking in firearms, ammunition and explosives.
The three-day training programme which is being held at the Police Officers Training Centre, Eve Leary, is sponsored by the government of the United States of America in collaboration with the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Ministry of Legal Affairs.
The 24 participants who are drawn from the Guyana Police Force, the Guyana Forensics
UNLIREC’s Juliet Solomon addressing the opening of the training programme on combating illicit trafficking in firearms, ammunition and explosives
Laboratory, the Ministry of Legal Affairs and the Office of the Director of Public Prosecution, will have the opportunity of expending their knowledge in all the different aspects of small arms control, from weapons classifications and definition, legal frameworks, investigative techniques for firearms proliferation, armed violence and forensic ballistics among others.
The training could not have come at a better time, since according to Juliet Solomon, Senior Programme Director (Caribbean) for the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean (UNLIREC), the main objective is to reduce the proliferation of firearms within the Region.
“In recent years, the number of firearms in circulation and the devastating consequences of improper or illegal use represent one of the biggest concerns for many countries in Latin America and the Caribbean. The direct and indirect human and material cost of all the violence represents a significant portion of the gross domestic product of states in this region,” Solomon told yesterday’s opening ceremony.
She explained that the easy access to illicit weapons, ammunition and explosives affects the livelihood of communities beyond national borders, and it is closely linked to other illegal activities such as drugs and human trafficking and organized crime.
To this end, she said that preventing, combating and eradicating the illicit manufacturing and trafficking of firearms, ammunition and explosives is one of the most persistent challenges of the public security and development agenda of the United Nations.
Solomon said that given the transnational nature of this problem, it is essential to increase international cooperation in this area.
According to Solomon, the UN Regional Human Development Report on Citizens’ Security highlights high deficits in the justice system in Latin America and the Caribbean and this is reflected in crime and insecurity.
“Strengthening legal mechanisms and building security and justice sector capacities, such as ongoing training for judges’ prosecutors and police investigators should be considered an essential tool to ensure the quality and efficiency of criminal investigations,” she said.
She said that in order to meet this specific need in the field of legal practitioners, UNLIREC developed the specialized training course, which is aimed at supporting the implementation of the international firearms instrument as well as reducing impunity of firearms related offences.
Guyana’s Home Affairs Minister, Clement Rohee, who delivered the key note address, reminded the audience that his government remains committed to peace disarmament and development, a commitment which dates back way beyond when the People’s Progressive Party/CIVIC came into office in 1992.
He said that disarmament both at the national and international levels is a foundation principle to which the government of Guyana is committed, since disarmament would impact positively on peace and development.
The Minister said that it is this context that Guyana became a signatory to many of the protocols and conventions of the United Nations to demonstrate its commitment to the UN Charter.
“It is further in manifestation of this commitment that we have signed on to the Convention in respect to the illegal trafficking in firearms….and only recently in the national assembly the motion was passed and later on signed into an act,” Rohee stated.
He however, acknowledged the challenge that faces Guyana with its porous multiple borders, and he welcomed the assistance of the United States Government and other multinational agencies.
But these challenges, he said, are being undermined by the position taken by the local judiciary with regards to persons who are charged under the firearms act, granting bail to such persons who commit crimes with illegal firearms.
“We do not look for concubinage with the judiciary; what we look for is a balance between pretrial liberty of individuals who have been charged with commission of a gun crime and the human rights of the victims. It is important that this balance be taken into consideration and the balance be struck between those who seek pre trial liberty through the courts and the victims who have suffered physical damage or economic losses,” the Home Affairs Minister declared.
Rohee welcomed the training, which he said, will always be a work in progress for law enforcement in any field of its mandate.
Juliet Solomon disclosed that the current training activity is part of a broader assistance package which the agency has been providing to the government of Guyana since 2013 with the support of the United States of America.
“As the regional arm of the UN office of disarmament affairs, UNLIREC is willing with the support of the donor community to continue providing assistance to Guyana in its efforts to reduce gun crimes and strengthen public security,” she said.
Deputy US Ambassador to Guyana, Bryan Hunt, noted that security is one of the main areas of cooperation between his government and the government of Guyana.
He said that there is no question that illicit arms trafficking is a global problem and the United States is not insulated from the violence that is derived from the proliferation of firearms.
Hunt reminded the audience of the recent shooting at the University of Southern California, pointing out that gun violence is a problem that the entire international community has to work together to combat.
“ The United States is not in a position to lecture anyone on how to prevent illicit firearms trafficking and I would never presume to do so, which is why I’m so grateful that we’ve been able to bring the experts from UNLIREC here to engage directly with the stakeholders in Guyana to offer an international perspective on the best strategies that can be used collectively to investigate, successfully prosecute and to bring to justice those who choose to engage in gun violence and the trafficking of illicit firearm ammunition and explosives,” the US diplomat said.
He said that the course is a model for inter-agency collaboration which is tremendously important when dealing with important cross-cutting societal problems.