Washington, D.C. (April 18):-St. Vincent and the Grenadines has become the seventh Member State of the Organisation of American States (OAS) to sign a cooperation Agreement for Firearms marking in Latin America and the Caribbean.
On Friday, April 15, the country’s Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the OAS, La Celia A. Prince and Secretary General of the OAS, José Miguel Insulza signed the cooperation agreement which aims at curbing the illicit trafficking and use in criminal activity of firearms in the hemisphere.
Among those present at the signing ceremony was Steven Costner of the U.S. State Department’s Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement. The funding for purchase of the Firearms marking machine and the training of the personnel to use the equipment is being provided by the United States government. However, the overall implementation of the project will be executed by the OAS Department of Public Security.
Insulza said the US aims to provide “30 countries with marking equipment, training and computer aid necessary for proper record- keeping of the weapons that they mark, and that are traded illegally.”
In thanking the United States and the OAS for spearheading collaborative exercise, Prince highlighted the importance of such an initiative, noting that while SVG does not manufacture weapons, the majority of all homicides in the country were gun-related.
“This goes to show the prevalence of the illicit trafficking in firearms. As a multi-island State, our borders are porous and it is thus easier for such weapons to be trafficked illegally. However, with the use of this new facility to mark the firearms that come into our country and by tracing them, we believe that we will be able to stem the source of the problem. The initiative will advance our multilateral efforts for citizen security in St. Vincent and the Grenadines and in this hemisphere,” the Ambassador said.
The initiative is regarded as building upon a Memorandum of Understanding agreed to by CARICOM Heads and the United States government in 2007, for cooperation in combatting the illicit trade in small arms, light weapons and ammunition in the region.
Last Friday’s specially convened signing ceremony at the OAS Headquarters also saw the Ambassador of St. Kitts and Nevis signing a cooperation agreement on behalf of her country. Other OAS Member States are also expected to sign similar agreements in the near future.