WASHINGTON, USA -- The Organization of American States (OAS) and the government of Suriname on Tuesday signed a cooperation agreement for the donation of a firearms marking machine to the Caribbean Community country, in order to improve its capabilities to combat the illicit trade in weapons. This initiative is part of the efforts outlined by OAS Secretary General José Miguel Insulza that define the organization as a strategic actor in the fight against crime.
Insulza recalled that the agreement is signed within the framework of the Inter-American Convention Against the Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms, Ammunition, Explosives, and Other Related Materials (CIFTA), which “strengthens national capacities to mark firearms” that circulate without registration in the countries of the region.
“With Suriname, we have 25 countries participating in this program, which is an important initiative for our organization,” he added.
The secretary general added that Latin America and the Caribbean is “the region with the highest number of murders involving firearms in the world.”
He noted that many of the illegal weapons in the Western Hemisphere are used by transnational crime organizations in drug trafficking, and that to fight crime effectively “it is essential to be able to mark and track firearms.”
For her part, the Ambassador of Suriname, Niermala Hindori-Badrising, said that the agreement serves “to meet the stipulations of the CIFTA agreement, but it is also a reflection of the progressive implementation of the mandates related to one of the major pillars of the OAS, namely multidimensional security.”
“The role of the OAS within this context clearly defines our regional body as a strategic partner for national governments,” said the Suriname ambassador, and added that it also signals the “commitment of my government to combat crime in general.”
Steven Costner, deputy director in the Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement in the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs of the State Department of the United States – which is funding the project -- said that “the ability for us to cooperate in tracing weapons is one of the most important things we can do in combating illicit trafficking and fighting gun related crimes.”
“You can’t effectively trace, if you do not keep records, and you can not keep effective records without marking weapons, and we have numerous confirmations on guns being recovered and persons being arrested and prosecuted in various countries where we have cooperated in this effort,” added Costner.
In this sense, the OAS cooperates with the countries of the region with the objective that, in the shortest time possible, all the member states will have established policies, as well as relevant legislation, to mark firearms at the time of manufacturing and/or import.
To date, 25 countries in the region have signed a cooperation agreement with the OAS to participate in the program: Argentina, Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Bahamas, Belize, Costa Rica, Dominica, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Grenada, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Uruguay, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Saint Lucia, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago.