CARICOM countries take steps to share ballistic information

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad — Caribbean Community (CARICOM) member states have taken the next step in enabling the newly-created regional integrated ballistic information network (RIBIN) board to begin its work by electing representatives to serve on the RIBIN board pursuant to a decision of the fifth meeting of the council of ministers responsible for national security and law enforcement (CONSLE).

The director of the Forensic Science Laboratory Jamaica, Dr Judith Mowatt, was nominated to serve as the chair. The vice-chair is the director of the Forensic Science Centre of Trinidad and Tobago, Arlette Lewis. The chair and vice chair are appointed for a two-year term.

Other board members selected at the inaugural meeting are the commissioner of police designated to represent the standing committee for commissioners of police, president of the Association of Caribbean Commissioners of Police (ACCP), head of the Integrated Ballistic Information System (IBIS) Unit in Barbados; executive director of CARICOM IMPACS; legal advisor of CARICOM IMPACS; Regional Crime and Security Strategy (RCSS) co-coordinator; and IT manager of the Joint Regional Communications Centre (JRCC).

The rising level of firearm incidents, combined with an ongoing reliance on manual traditional methods of firearms identification, has contributed significantly to a backlog of criminal cases across the region. With the common agreement and signing of the RIBIN charter and participation agreement, CARICOM countries will for the first time begin sharing ballistic information across multiple jurisdictions. Through RIBIN, the region will be better equipped to prevent and solve gun crimes.

In carrying out its functions, the new board will oversee the overall governing structure for RIBIN. The RIBIN mechanism will provide CARICOM states with the capacity to track guns and ammunition used in crimes. This will increase member states’ capacity to link firearms used by specific gangs and also allow them the capability to trace the connections in the organized trade in illicit guns and ammunition.

The board will assist in the formulation of training and certification programmes in the area of ballistic examinations throughout the region to improve human resource capacity; strengthen presentation of evidence in court and also present recommendations to the CONSLE on issues relating to ballistic information and firearms.

The meeting also reviewed the RIBIN charter and participation agreement, which will be presented for approval at the ministerial level. The RIBIN charter is intended to provide standard operating procedures (SOPs) in the processing of ballistic data and generating intelligence to assist CARICOM states to solve gun-related crimes within national jurisdictions and across borders.

CARICOM IMPACS will serve as the secretariat of the board.

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