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  • The conference in Quito

    The conference in Quito | Photo: Ministry of Security

Published 18 December 2014

As host of a regional conference fighting arms trafficking and transnational crime, Ecuador is tackling the issue head-on.

The second regional forum of cooperation against arms trafficking and international crime ended Thursday in Quito.

The three-day forum brought together specialists to share experiences, promote international cooperation, and develop effective policies to combat organized crime.

Organized by the Coordinating Ministry for Security, with the support of the United Nations Office On Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the forum sought to provide technical assistance and to identify good practices. Over 60 specialists were invited from across Latin America to give presentations and share experiences.

UNODC Coordinator Simonetta Grassi said that cooperation among Latin American countries to confront arms trafficking and transnational organized crime is crucial for successful results.

She added that one of the major challenges of arms trafficking is that it is nearly never an isolated event, as it is usually associated with other crimes, such as drug trafficking.

Coordinating Minister of Security Cesar Navas spoke of Ecuador's success, as the country has created a technical working group focused on arms control and coordinating national actions.

“Our intention is to make ourselves one of the most secure countries, not just in the region but in the world. Control should be technical, not all citizens should have arms, and those who do have them, should be working within the legal framework,” said Navas.

New policies fighting arms trafficking will be put into action in January. The Ministries of Security and the Interior, as well as the National Police, Joint Command of the Armed Forces, and National Customs Service, will increase efforts to regulate gun possession at the national level.

It is estimated that 18,000 guns will be registered. In 2013, 5,513 arms and 3,540 firearm accessories were found in the coastal region without registration.

In Ecuador, more than 70 percent of homicides and assassinations are committed with firearms. Twenty-four of every 100,000 inhabitants were victims of firearms in 2007.

In the next year, authorities hope to reduce this number to 8.5 percent through greater regulation and zero tolerance policies.

Navas said that an event will be held Friday, symbolically destroying 5,000 guns, with the aim of demonstrating to citizens that the government intends to tackle this issue to promote a peaceful, non-violent society.  

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