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Georgetown Solid Waste Management Programme

Hits: 3530 | Published Date: 14 Mar, 2013
| Speech delivered at: 39th Sitting - Tenth Parliament
| Speech Delivered by : Ms. Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett, MP

Minister of Foreign Affairs [Mrs. Rodrigues-Birkett]: I rise in support of the amendment before us and to make a few remarks thereon. The amendments will no doubt enhance protections and control at the national level. This is our first priority, and this was outlined by Minister Rohee. However, as mentioned by Minister Rohee, the fact is that the illegal trafficking in conventional arms is not only a national issue but a global menace. Whilst Guyana, as many other CARICOM countries, is neither a manufacturer nor a significant importer of firearms the elicit trafficking in small arms and light weapons have no doubt taken a toll on our collective society in the Caribbean and elsewhere.
It was said that the majority of gun crimes committed in CARICOM countries are with illegal guns. If we look at the story of Central America, it is similar there. According to a study done by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) seventy-seven per cent of all murders in the Central America regions are committed with a firearm. Some of them are left over from the Civil Wars, but others, no doubt, are brought from nearby States. It is estimated that in the region an AK assault rifle can be obtained for as low as US$200 and smaller arms are sold for less. The trouble is that firearms are durable goods, so they can remain in circulation for a very long time. For example, the modern assault rifle has not been enhanced since the Cold War days, yet it remains an effective killing machine.
It is further estimated by the UNODC that the Central America region has more than 2.8 million illicit arms. The security forces seize approximately sixteen thousand per year. This means it will take over one hundred and fifty years to remove them off the streets. I cite these statistics because in this globalised world, in which we live, it is far easier for people and goods to move and we have to be vigilant in our countries to ensure that the necessary controls and protections are in place. Our geographic proximity to the producers and consumers of illegal drugs put us in the firing line, so to speak, for those bent on illegal activities where the firearm is central to these operations.
The problem of illicit trafficking in firearms, their parts and components, is not a new one, however, I submit that it is now a bigger problem. As a responsible player in the international community and a country which believes in multilateralism, Guyana is party to the United Nations Convention against transnational organised crime and its three protocols, which include the protocol against the illicit manufacturing of and trafficking in firearms, their parts and components and ammunition. Under article 5 of that protocol, which deals with criminalisation, state-parties are required among other things, and I quote:
“Adopt such legislative and other measures as may be necessary to establish as criminal offences the following conduct when committed intentionally illicit manufacturing of firearms, their parts and components and ammunition and illicit trafficking in firearms, their parts and components and ammunition.”
The passage of this amendment brought today by my colleague, Minister Rohee, will therefore directly address one of our treaty obligations and must be seen, apart from strengthening our national controls, as contributing to the efforts to strengthening the international regime governing the trade in conventional arms.
The Government of Guyana believes that its convention and protocol, which exist, must be lauded, but it also believes that it must go even further with respect to small arms and light weapons, the preferred firearm in the region of those bent on criminality. We believe, as I said, that this problem, of small arms and light weapons, is greater now. The adverse effects of the illegal use of these weapons on our society cannot be discounted. We are, therefore, of the view that to adequately address these needs there must be an arms trade treaty to which Minister Rohee referred and this must include small arms and light weapons as well as ammunition, in addition to the seven categories of weapons covered under the United Nations register on conventional arms.
Guyana and CARICOM have been strong advocates for an arms trade treaty and for the inclusion of small arms and light weapons. Of course, we have also advocated that the treaty must include categories of equipment, including parts and components. We were, therefore, please that the United Nations convened a conference in New York in July last year regrettably it was concluded, the conference that is, without an agreement. However, on the 18th of this month a meeting will be convened and we hope that progress will be made in this regard.
Guyana believes that there should be transparency in the legal trade of arms and measures must be taken to curb the illicit trade, as I mentioned, and we feel that the arms trade treaty or an arms trade treaty will address these concerns in a coordinated manner. As was expected, there is not unanimity on the proposed arms trade treaty, especially from countries which stand to benefit economically, but we must continue with our advocacy in this regard.
I also want to indicate, and Minister Rohee briefly mentioned it, that we have also been seeking partner in our fight against crime and in this regard CARICOM has partnered with the United States of America for the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative, an initiative that includes CARICOM and the Dominican Republic and provides training, provision of equipment among other things.
This amendment must, therefore, be seen simple, as it may seem to the eye, as Guyana putting in place the relevant legislation consistent with our treaty obligations, the partnerships in which we are involved and in what we have been advocating at the international level, both as a country and as a region. I therefore want to commend my colleague for bringing this amendment to the National Assembly which, apart from improving controls at the local level, will strengthen our voice at the international level.
I thank you. [Applause]

Related Member of Parliament

Profession: Specialist in Amerindian Affairs and a Community Worker.
Date Became Parliamentarian: 2001
Speeches delivered:(11) | Motions Laid:(2) | Questions asked:(0)

Related Member of Parliament

Date Became Parliamentarian: 2001
Speeches delivered:(11)
Motions Laid:(2)
Questions asked:(0)

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