Workshop on standardisation of firearms legislation in the Caribbean

On 18 - 19 April the Caribbean Coalition on Development and Reduction of Armed Violence, the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Implementation Agency for Crime and Security and Project Ploughshares co-hosted a workshop to promote standardisation of firearms legislation in the Caribbean region.The aim of the workshop was to provide a platform for information sharing and an exchange of viewpoints between key stakeholders. Representatives from the various Ministries of National Security, Home Affairs and Justice were expected to attend.

According to Project Ploughshares, the free movement of CARICOM nationals throughout the region means that a single firearm can be used in offences in multiple member states. But disparity in firearms legislation among member states is hampering law-enforcement efforts.

The goal of standardized firearms legislation is to support the ability of security forces in the region to work together to ensure that offenders can be prosecuted in any CARICOM member state.

The following are key findings of a report comparing existing firearms legislation in eight CARICOM member states—Antigua and Barbuda, the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize Guyana, Jamaica, St. Lucia and Trinidad and Tobago:

•There is no standardization within the region

•There is an absence of legislation in critical areas in certain countries

•There are glaring disparities in sentencing among the various countries

•Some countries have no stipulated sentences and/or fines which creates opportunities for well-to-do individuals to take advantage of their status and/or connections