Friday, February 23, 2018

‘Increase in illegal firearms, gang membership’

There has been an increase in the number of illegal firearms and gang membership in the Caricom region executive director of Caricom Implementation Agency for Crime and Security (IMPACS) Francis Forbes has said.

Describing it as “more than a cause for concern” while addressing the regional workshop on the Arms Trade Treaty at the Trinidad Hilton hotel last week Forbes said: “Only last year there were 2,143 homicides committed in 11 Caricom states, approximately 70 per cent of which were committed by small arms and light weapons (SALW) but that is not all. Let us also place into the equation the 1,885 illegal guns seized during the same period and reality sets in.

The fact that between 2006 and 2013, law enforcement recovered 16,162 illegal firearms in these same countries is more than a cause for concern. Gang membership is now estimated to be not less than 35,000 and growing across Caricom States...”

He said less than half of the 14 Caricom states have ratified the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), although all 14 are signatories to the international agreement.

Caricom, he said, has resolved to “push back” as best it can within the confines of limited resources.

But “I must take note without commenting that to date, the records reflect 14 signatories to the ATT and as at 3 June 2014 only six members have ratified namely; Antigua and Barbuda, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, St Vincent and Trinidad and Tobago.”

So far 41 countries internationally have ratified the ATT.