UNLIREC and Government of Belize strengthen national capacities in forensic ballistics

From 18 – 22 March, UNLIREC undertook a technical mission to Belize with the financial support of the British High Commission in Belmopan to provide training and assistance in the area of operational forensic ballistics. In 2012 the National Forensic Science Service of Belize received an Integrated Ballistics Information System (IBIS) from the Government of Canada, a sophisticated piece of equipment that enables the rapid comparison of spent bullets and cartridges recovered from crime scenes. In recent years Belize has experienced a marked increase in armed violence with nearly 95% of all homicides committed with firearms.

The UNLIREC technical mission began the week convening a meeting of high level officials from the executive and judicial branches to raise awareness on forensic ballistic issues. The meeting was followed by a joint UNLIREC/NFSS four-day training course on Operational Forensic Ballistics for 22 Belizean officials. The course covered crime scene management of ballistic evidence, health and safety issues, validation of evidence, forensic examination of firearms and ammunition, recording and reporting, comparison macroscopy and firearms residues tests.

Additionally, UNLIREC produced a set of fourteen Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) on Operational Forensic Ballistics to support the NFSS in its ongoing implementation of IBIS. UNLIREC will also be providing the NFSS with a detailed assessment of existing forensic ballistics capabilities and resources and future requirements to assist in long-term implementation of IBIS with a view to reducing impunity in cases of illicit trafficking and armed violence. According to UNLIREC Technical Adviser Philip Boyce ´´IBIS is the global standard equipment for forensic ballistics, but in the end must be supported by human beings capable of properly identifying firearms and ammunition, viewing evidence under a macroscope and responding to judges and prosecutors in a court of law.´´

Sound operational forensic ballistic capabilities, both electronic and manual data management systems, make important contributions in combating illicit small arms trafficking under the UN 2001 Programme of Action on Small Arms. UNLIREC, the regional arm of the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs, is based in Lima, Peru and provides technical assistance to the 33 countries of Latin America and the Caribbean.

For more information on UNLIREC visit www.unlirec.org

Please direct all questions or inquiries to: Ms. Amanda Cowl, Political Affairs Officer, cowl@unlirec.org

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