To combat the illegal trade of firearms, approximately 4,000 weapons and about half ton of small arms ammunition are to be destroyed during a disposal exercise starting Tuesday Feb. 7.
Some 2,000 guns will be disposed of today, in Kingston, while the ammunition will be destroyed at the Jamaica Police Academy at Twickenham Park, St. Catherine, tomorrow (February 8).
The firearms, which are from the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) and the Firearm Licensing Authority, are being destroyed as they are either unserviceable, obsolete or recovered by law enforcement personnel. Some are also civilian firearms that were left in the care of the police over a protracted period.
Firearms from the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) and the Department of Correctional Services will be destroyed during a later exercise.
This exercise falls under the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean’s (UNLIREC’s) firearm stockpile management and weapons destruction assistance package for Caribbean states.
The programme was launched in Jamaica in 2010 to combat the illicit trade in firearms and ammunition; strengthen the capacity of the security forces; and reduce armed violence in Jamaica, and by extension the region.
Speaking at the opening ceremony for the exercise, at the Jamaica Constabulary Forces (JCF) Armoury on Elletson Road in Kingston, Minister of Security, Hon. Peter Bunting, thanked UNLIREC for providing technical assistance to enable the Government “to fully develop action on small arms regulation and control."
“Since 2010, UNLIREC has facilitated training in stockpile management (on) how to treat weapons, improve the infrastructure at the national armoury to enhance security, (and) helped us develop a national action plan to deal with small arms regulations and control,” he said.
Mr. Bunting said the Government was also grateful that the entity has reviewed the national Firearms Act and supported the acquisition of equipment for the destruction of firearms and ammunition.
“The Ministry of National Security considers these actions important first steps towards effectively monitoring and regulating the number of firearms available for illicit use. Gun crimes represent a major threat to the safety and security of our society, so we’re therefore grateful for meaningful support to help reduce the availability of firearms and thus help to protect our democracy,” he said.
The Minister said the destruction exercise was an important step towards implementing aspects of the national action plan on combating the illicit trade of weapons.
Programme Co-ordinator with UNLIREC, William Godnick, commended the Government for its commitment to the implementation of the UN Programme of Action to combat the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons in all its aspects.
“We see this as a contribution to the ongoing process of developing a national small arms and ammunition control policy in new legislation in Jamaica,” he said.
Mr. Godnick informed that the firearms will be destroyed utilising international UN safety standards, noting that the small arms ammunition will be destroyed using a UN-designed small arms ammunition burning tank, which destroys ammunition in both a safe and low emission manner. Jamaica will be the third country to use this technology. It has so far been used in Equador and Trinidad and Tobago.
He said that over the next three months, the UN will also be providing the Government of Jamaica, with a set of hydraulic sheers to cut firearms, so that they can be stored outside the armouries until they are able to be recycled or destroyed.
This, he said, is in addition to the provision of international standard padlocks to add increased levels of security to different stockpile facilities.
By Alecia Smith-Edwards, JIS Reporter