UNLIREC hosts international expert meeting to develop and promote proficiency testing among forensic ballistics professionals

From 27 to 28 of April, the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean (UNLIREC), held an expert meeting on competency and proficiency testing for firearms and toolmark examiners in the context of its Operational Forensic Ballistics Assistance Package in Lima, Peru. This assistance package aims to enhance the capabilities of eight Caribbean countries to implement operational forensic ballistic (OFB) investigation strategies amidst broader efforts to combat illicit small arms trafficking and impunity in cases of armed violence.

The gathering brought together specialists from the American Association of Firearms and Toolmark Examiners (AFTE), the European Network of Forensic Scientists (ENFSI), CARICOM IMPACS, representatives of graduate programmes in forensic sciences from the University of the West Indies and the University of Santo Domingo with government representatives from Barbados, Dominican Republic, Jamaica Trinidad and Tobago and the United States Bureau for Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF). UNLIREC proposals for hands-on competency testing in the Caribbean were discussed in the context of existing state-centred and private testing frameworks.

Beginning in the second semester of 2016, UNLIREC will be piloting Forensic Ballistics Collaborative Exercises to evaluate government examiners abilities to undertake firearms, ammunition and trigger pull examination in line with established Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs). It is hoped such exercises will complement written and practical tests administered online or by correspondence and build Caribbean laboratories capacity to evaluate their own staff. Competency and/or proficiency testing combined with the use of written SOPs are the building blocks of forensic ballistics quality managements systems.

This expert meeting was made possible thanks to the support of the US Department of State and the Government of Canada´s Anti-Crime Capacity Building Programme.

UNLIREC, as the regional organ of the UN Office for Disarmament, seeks to advance the cause of practical disarmament in Latin America and the Caribbean as part of its commitment to support Member States in their implementation of international disarmament and non-proliferation instruments, in particular, the 2001 UN Programme of Action on Small Arms.

For more information on UNLIREC visit (www.unlirec.org). Please direct all questions or inquiries to Amanda Cowl, Political Affairs Officer (cowl@unlirec.org).

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