UN assisting Jamaica in the destruction of illegal firearms

KINGSTON, Jamaica, CMC – The United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs Monday launched a two week programme with Jamaica to combat illicit firearms trafficking as well as to destroy weapons.

The January 30 to February 10 initiative will involve the training of 60 security officials including police, customs and intelligence officials, armed forces, judges and prosecutors as part of a joint initiative between the Jamaica government and the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs’ Regional Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean (UNLIREC).

“These joint activities aim at combating the illicit trafficking in firearms and ammunition, strengthening the capacity of the security forces, and reducing armed violence in Jamaica and the region. The programme activities, which form part of UNLIREC’s Firearms Assistance Package for Caribbean States, were launched in Kingston, Jamaica in April 2010 and carried out in eight additional Caribbean countries with the financial support of Canada and the USA,” A UN statement said.

It said at the request of Jamaica, technical expertise and assistance, as well as specialized training and equipment, will be provided by UNLIREC to the Ministry of National Security for its destruction of seized, obsolete and surplus firearms.

“A large quantity of expired ammunition and explosives will also be destroyed, contributing to a reduction in the risk of unplanned explosions at munitions sites.”

It said that a formal destruction ceremony will be held by the Ministry of National Security on February 7 to demonstrate the commitment of the Jamaica government to join forces with the UN to combat and eradicate illicit trafficking in firearms and ammunition.

The statement said many years of UN work, conducted world-wide, concluded that compliance with international standards drastically reduces the risk of diversion of firearms into the illicit market through theft, loss and “leakages” from stockpiles owned by governments or private security companies.

“Destruction is irreversible, hence the best way to ensure that surplus weapons and illicit firearms not threaten the lives of the innocent and the security of communities. It is a decisive measure that the Government of Jamaica has taken to protect its nation and region from further armed violence,” said the Director of UNLIREC, Mélanie Régimbal.

The Office for Disarmament Affairs’ three Regional Disarmament Centres in Latin America and the Caribbean, Africa, and Asia and the Pacific serve over 135 countries worldwide and assist 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.

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