UNLIREC provides assistance on firearms forensic ballistics to Belize

From 19-24 October 2015, the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean (UNLIREC) carried out, in collaboration with the Government of Belize, a three-day training course on standard operating procedures awareness and an update of the technical assessment of national capabilities and infrastructure for forensic ballistics last undertaken by UNLIREC and the National Forensic Science Service in 2013. The cooperation was launched with an executive seminar for the institutional clients of firearms forensic ballistics in Belize.

The three-day training course on standard operating procedures in forensic ballistics enabled 12 participants, including forensic experts, firearms examiners and scenes of crime analysts to increase their knowledge on topics, such as bullet damaged items, range of fire, serial number restoration and others. The course included mapping and comparison microscopy exercises and understanding of wound ballistics by participating in an autopsy. This was also a key opportunity for participants to exchange best practices and challenges faced in the field.

The national assessment update, carried out in cooperation with the National Forensic Science Services, took into consideration the occupational health and safety of the firearms examiners (e.g. lead contamination), adequate protective equipment, firearms safety protocols, evidence management, as well as the continuing education plans for firearms and toolmark examiners and other laboratory personnel. The main recommendations of the assessment will be integrated in the two year capacity-building work plan for forensic ballistics.

The seminar raised the awareness of institutional clients (chief justice, heads of investigative and crime scene units, prosecutors, custom officers and magistrates among others) of firearms forensic ballistics on the strengths and shortcomings of forensic ballistics in support of building court cases, as well as in generating intelligence to identify sources and routes used for illicit arms trafficking. In addition, UNLIREC staff provided a review of best practices in forensic ballistics analysis and investigative techniques.

UNLIREC´s assistance to the Government of Belize is made possible thanks to a grant from 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 UN 2001 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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