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Wednesday, June 28, 2006 

Caribbean calls for more assistance in
crime fighting
Wednesday June 28 2006

UNITED NATIONS (CMC) – The Caribbean Community (Caricom) has reiterated its call for increased international financial and technical support in combating escalating crime in the region.

Barbados’ United Nations Ambassador, Dr. Christopher Hackett, speaking on behalf of Caricom, told the opening session of a two-week United Nations Conference on Illicit Small Arms that the presence of small arms and light weapons in the region is being used by criminal networks involved in the trafficking of drugs and weapons.

“The increasing crime in the Caricom region is compounded by relatively easy access to, and use of, firearms,” he said.
“The Caricom member states have been seeking to implement their commitments at the national and regional levels, but have faced a number of challenges,” he said, adding that that increased international financial and technical assistance and support were necessary in assisting in capacity-building.

“Data collection and coordination of intelligence activities must be strengthened. There should be improved regulation for firearms dealers.”

Hackett said new and increased levels of crime were forcing Caricom countries to re-think their national and regional strategies, pointing out that the capacity of Caricom countries to deal with that problem has been “overtaxed”.

He said it is necessary to establish a comprehensive follow-up mechanism, as a result of the Review Conference, to periodically review progress made in the implementation of the Programme of Action.

“Caricom reiterates the urgent need for the international community to take concerted action to eradicate the deadly use and trade in illicit small arms,” the Barbadian envoy said.

At the meeting’s opening session, the conference confirmed as its Secretary-General Saijin Zhang, Senior Political Affairs Officer of the UN Department for General Assembly Affairs and Conference Management, and elected vice presidents from a number of countries, including Jamaica.

The conference, which runs through 7 July, aims to boost worldwide support for the 2001 programme’s guidelines, under which states made a commitment to collect and destroy illegal weapons, curb illicit small arms trafficking, and, among other things, regulate the activities of arms brokers and impose import and export controls.

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