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  • Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Michael Peart, has called on Parliamentarians in the region to speak out against the illicit trade and irresponsible use of small arms and light weapons.
  • The House Speaker made the appeal as he addressed Wednesday’s (June 25) opening session of the two-day Parliamentary Forum on small arms and light weapons, being held at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel from June 25-26.
  • Mr. Peart noted that Jamaica has sought to control the supply and possession of illicit weapons and has taken steps to ensure the responsible use of small arms and light weapons both at the national and community levels.

Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Michael Peart, has called on Parliamentarians in the region to speak out against the illicit trade and irresponsible use of small arms and light weapons.

The House Speaker made the appeal as he addressed Wednesday’s (June 25) opening session of the two-day Parliamentary Forum on small arms and light weapons, being held at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel from June 25-26.

“One often hears about the ravages of nuclear weapons and weapons of mass destruction, but small arms and light weapons can often have as devastating an impact,” Mr. Peart said.

“This conference will give us the opportunity, as Parliamentarians, to chart the way forward. We can, through dialogue with all sectors of society, conceive creative ways to get the message across to our constituents,” he pointed out.

Mr. Peart, in urging Parliamentarians to take action, said it is estimated that there are at least 639 million small arms and light weapons in circulation across the globe and that each year, more than eight million guns and 16 billion rounds of ammunition are produced.

“More frightening than all of this, however, is the fact that according to small arms surveys, 70 per cent of these small arms and light weapons are to be found in civilian hands,” he lamented, noting that these weapons cause death and injury to tens of thousands of victims.

Mr. Peart noted that Jamaica has sought to control the supply and possession of illicit weapons and has taken steps to ensure the responsible use of small arms and light weapons both at the national and community levels.

The conference, organised by the Parliamentary Forum on Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW), is discussing the Arms Trade Treaty and the United Nations Programme of Action (UNPoA) to Combat, Prevent and Eradicate the illicit trading in Small Arms in Light Weapons in All its Aspects, which are complementary and mutually reinforcing initiatives, aimed at stopping the uncontrolled proliferation of arms.

In addition to speaking out against the illicit use of guns, Mr. Peart said Parliamentarians should also encourage ratification of the Arms Trade Treaty and adoption of the provisions of the 2001 UNPoA, noting that such action will impact positively on the security landscape in Latin America and the Caribbean.

The Arms Trade Treaty seeks to regulate international trade in conventional weapons, so as to prevent their diversion from the legal market to the illicit trade.

It also establishes common international standards governing the transfer of conventional weapons, including small arms and light weapons.

Jamaica ratified the Arms Trade Treaty in June 2014, which will assist the country in addressing the challenges related to the inflow of small arms into the country.

At the end of the conference, participants are expected to affirm a declaration of their commitment to the provisions of the Arms Trade Treaty to ensure the comprehensive implementation of the UNPoA.