A two day Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) workshop concluded on Thursday, February 13, 2020, which was held to strengthen the country’s capacity in the management and enforcement of international arms transfer.
As part of the European Union’s ATT outreach Project (EU ATT-OP 11), the workshop was facilitated by the Expertise France and the German Federal Office of Economics and Export (BAFA).
Speaking at the event, Minister of Public Security, Khemraj Ramjattan, noted the importance of these seminars which seeks to deal with the illegal trade of arms.
“We have to ensure that … we get as much expertise from the European Union and it is important that we utilise these opportunities when we have them coming and wanting to assist so that our system will not be stretched and strained to the extent that it is having now,” Min. Ramjattan said.
In Guyana, as well as Latin America and the Caribbean, gun violence is at an alarmingly high rate. Min. Ramjattan pointed out that neighbouring Brazil has an annual murder tally of 56,000 while Jamaica’s annual murder rate is about 56 per 100,000. In other Caribbean countries such as St. Lucia and St. Vincent and the Grenadines it is 32 per 100,000 annually. In Guyana, the rate is 15 per 100,000 which the minister described as 15 too many.
Minister Ramjattan noted that Guyana was not an exporter but an importer of arms, some of which come illegally from neighbouring Brazil and Venezuela.
“We have heard of situations where some across the border with Venezuela have been selling guns for food,” the minister said.
The ATT, which was signed in 2013 but ratified in 2014, is the only binding treaty governing arms transfers worldwide and has provisions to help bring countries like Guyana on par with international best practices.
Public security officials at the workshop were joined by representatives from the ministries of foreign affairs, business, and legal affairs, the army, and the Guyana Revenue Authority.