Combating illicit trade in small arms and light weapons a priority: CARICOMListen /
NARRATOR: Combating the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons has been a priority for CARICOM Member States.
That's what the Permanent Representative of Guyana Ambassador George Talbot said as delegations at the United Nations began preparations for an upcoming conference to review the Programme of Action on Small Arms and Light Weapons.
Ambassador Talbot said as a result the region has been firm and consistent in its support of the Programme of Action and its implementation since it was adopted back in 2001.
TAPE: CARICOM countries do not engage in the manufacture, export or re-export of small arms and light weapons. Nor is our community a large-scale importer of such weapons. However, over the last decade, our region has suffered from the devastating impact of the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons. We have witnessed increases in the proliferation of illegal firearms, an increase in homicides involving firearms and in violent crime generally. According to the 2007 World Bank Report on Crime, Violence and development in the Caribbean, the murder rates in the Caribbean are higher than for any other region in the world. Small arms and light weapons are used in the commission of more than 70% of those murders. But the impact of the circulation of illegal firearms extends beyond crime and security issues. The violence that these weapons engender has adversely impacted our region's human, social and economic development: destroying families, burdening our healthcare system and threatening our livelihood. For us, the impact of the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons on our security and development is real.
NARRATOR: Ambassador Talbot said Member States of CARICOM have sought at the national levels to implement the programme of action by making efforts to improve legislation, by acquiring equipment to marking firearms, effective tracing of and by building the capacity of law enforcement personnel.
TAPE: We have made efforts to improve the security of government-held stockpiles and have safely destroyed confiscated firearms. Nevertheless, implementation challenges remain. There is need in our region for more international cooperation and assistance focused on areas of technical assistance to facilitate reporting and legislative drafting, capacity-building in intelligence gathering and analysis, in prosecutorial and investigative techniques, and in forensics. CARICOM believes that given the transnational nature of the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons, action and cooperation at the regional level are critical to combating the illicit trade. As our region has stated on numerous occasions, we consider effective and robust cross border controls as essential to preventing diversion and stemming the tide of the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons.
NARRATOR: Guyana's Representative George Talbot.
Several delegations said that the tragic deaths of thousands of men, women and children worldwide, killed every day by illegal firearms, was the high price of failing to halt the spread of those weapons.
This is Donn Bobb reporting.