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Suriname joins move to track illegal guns

PARAMARIBO, Suriname — Suriname has joined other CARICOM Member States in the use of  technology to track the origin of illegal guns with the assistance of the United States.

On Wednesday morning, Suriname signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the United States government, which will provide access to eTrace – an Internet based programme developed by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) which allows domestic and international law enforcement agencies to trace US-origin firearms used or suspected to have been used in criminal activities.

With this MOU and the Regional Ballistics Investigative System (RIBIN), being developed by CARICOM, Suriname has become part of a wider network for intelligence sharing and dissemination of information in relation to illegal firearms, within the Caribbean.

Chandrikapersad Santokhi, Minister of Justice and Police who signed on behalf of Suriname, reiterated the need to adopt a multi-disciplinary and unified approach to addressing transnational crime.

He added that global and hemispheric changes had prompted the need to strengthen cooperation between CARICOM and the USA in transnational crimes and other areas such as terrorism, climate change and lifestyle related diseases including HIV and AIDS.

Santokhi thanked the United States Government and noted the Community’s appreciation for the recent call by US President Barack Obama for the US Congress to provide US$45 Million towards “a multi-year, multi-faceted Caribbean Basin Security Initiative” aimed at strengthening the economic and social base of key Caribbean institutions, thus “ensuring the safety of Caribbean citizens who are increasingly suffering from the adverse impacts of transnational crime and reduced economic opportunities.”

Lisa Bobbie Shreider-Hughes, US Ambassador to Suriname, signed on behalf of the US Government. She perceived the signing as a manifestation of her country’s determination to defeat traffickers and shut down trafficking routes in the Caribbean. Emphasizing partnerships and shared responsibility as the key to arresting crime and violence, Ambassador Shreider-Hughes stated that eTrace was a perfect example of concrete partnerships with the Caribbean.

The other CARICOM countries that have already signed the Memorandum are Antigua and Barbuda, the Commonwealth of the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, St Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Trinidad and Tobago. Approximately eight other Central American countries – Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Panama and Mexico – also have access to eTrace.

The ATF-run programme forms part of an ongoing offensive against firearms trafficking in the Region, in keeping with the joint CARICOM-US Initiative on Combating the Illicit Trafficking in Small Arms, Light Weapons and Ammunition (SALWA).

The signing of the MOU, this morning provided a fitting segue into the CARICOM-US Technical Meeting on Security Cooperation currently taking place at the Royal Ballroom of the Torarica Hotel in Suriname.

This meeting prepares the Community for a high level Caribbean Security Cooperation Dialogue between Caribbean countries and the United States, scheduled for Washington, later this year, the outcome of which should be more tangible partnerships between both regions in stamping out transnational and domestic crimes, particularly in the area of gun trafficking.

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