To Fight Arms Traffic Brazil Needs Cooperation Between Army and Federal Police

In Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, yesterday, July 3, Reiner Pungs, coordinator of the United Nations Crime Prevention and Drug Supply Reduction Program, urged cooperation among the Mercosur countries in adopting a uniform system of information to combat light weapons traffic in the region.

Light weapons include any type of firearm that a person can carry: pistols, rifles, machine guns, etc. According to UN data, they are responsible for one thousand deaths daily around the globe.

According to Pungs, currently there are no legal instruments to facilitate cooperation among the Mercosur member countries.

"This makes information exchanges among police forces and judiciary bodies more difficult. Moreover, each country controls what it thinks must be controlled, and information is not made available to all the member countries," Pungs affirmed during the seminar, National and International Consequences of Light Arms Traffic.

To motivate the member countries to ratify the UN Protocol on Illegal Arms Traffic, which complements the UN Convention against Organized Crime, adopted in 2001, the organization hopes to hold a meeting in September with the four member countries in Assunción, Paraguay, to define the terms of the document.

According to the UN representative, the idea is "to create a common ground for dialogue among the nations and define exchange mechanisms."

So far Brazil is the only Mercosur country to ratify the Protocol. According to the UN representative, the Mercosur countries have modern legal systems but that is not enough to resolve the issue. The weak point, according to Pungs, is in the ability to enforce the laws in order to maintain effective control.

Pungs cited the example of Paraguay, which, according to the Federal Police, is an important arms trafficking route. When arms sales to foreigners were prohibited, foreigners interested in keeping the traffic going began forging documents to obtain arms there.

Another aspect identified during the event is the need for integration as well among information systems run by different national institutions, such as the Army, which controls weapons for restricted use, and the Federal Police.

According to the former national secretary of Public Safety, Luiz Eduardo Soares, "it is unbelievable that these data have not been meshed yet." He explained that, without this, it is impossible to assemble all that is known about arms that exist in the country for the sake of institutional efforts.

For Federal Police commissioner Marcos Viní­cius Dantas, acting head of the Division for the Repression of Illegal Arms Traffic, the integration of these data would expedite actions to combat arms trafficking.

"The systems are still unable to communicate with one another. Integration would optimize actions to combat arms trafficking, since by entering data about a weapon into the system, a police officer would know immediately the history of the weapon, its origin, whether it is illegal, and whether it was picked up in a previous operation. This makes the whole process more agile," he commented.

According to Dantas, the projection is for the systems to be integrated by the end of July.

ABr

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