Amnesty in effect from Wednesday, November 12, 2008 – Monday, January 12, 2009
Roseau, Dominica – November 18, 2008…….. Minister for National Security, Hon. Rayburn Blackmoore has reiterated the commitment of the Government to ” jam the brakes on those persons who keep and use illegal firearms.
The Minister said that while Dominica is regarded as the most peaceful place in the entire region, he acknowledged that there exists “within our society a small minority of deviant and malicious persons who seem committed on perpetrating acts of criminality”.
” The time is now to jam the brakes on those persons who make a deliberate decision to keep and use illegal firearms. Government therefore is going to adopt a measured approach in doing so. Firstly, effective the 12th day of November, 2008 to the 12th day of January 2009, the Government of Dominica is granting an amnesty programme for persons in possession of illegally held firearms and ammunition. Persons who possess firearms or ammunition illegally should surrender them to any police station without fear of prosecution,” Hon. Blackmoore stated at a press conference last Wednesday.
According to the Minister, all firearms surrendered to the police should be unloaded and packaged. As part of the amnesty programme persons can also surrender illegal firearms or ammunition to a lawyer of their choice.
Hon. Blackmore warned that after the expiration of the amnesty on January 12, 2009, ” the Police will leave no stone unturned in order to pursue and apprehend persons who are in possession of illegal firearms… we cannot allow a culture of guns to develop in Dominica. We have a collective responsibility as one people to jam the brakes on criminals in order to safeguard Dominica’s reputation”.
Hon. Blackmoore also revealed that the existing Firearms Act will be repealed to be replaced by a new law which is ” tougher and broader in scope”. An amendment to deal with the issue of the importation, sale and use of imitation firearms will also be included in the new law.
Some of the provisions being contemplated in the new piece of legislation include:
Ø A person who uses a firearm for the offences of kidnapping, robbery, drug trafficking, rape or unlawful carnal knowledge will be liable if convicted to a prison term of not less than fifteen(15) years
Ø A person who uses or attempts to use a firearm to obstruct or in any way interfere with a police officer while in the execution of his duty will be liable, if convicted to be jailed for a minimum of ten(10) years
Ø A person will be liable if convicted to go to jail for a minimum of ten(10) years if he/she were to threaten or intimidate a judge, a magistrate or public officer during the execution of his/her function
Ø It will be an offence if a person carries a firearm in a public place while under the influence of alcohol or any intoxicating substance, irrespective whether the person holds a license or not.
Hon. Blackmoore also emphasised that ” if we are seeking to rid the streets of illegal firearms and to discourage persons from possessing illegal firearms, we must first all have control of the persons who have firearm licenses, by doing a proper audit to ensure that persons who hold licenses for firearms cannot arbitrarily transfer them to other persons”.
The Minister added that if the holder of a licensed firearm carries it in a public place , he or she should ” have in their possession a registration card in the same fashion that a person carries a registration card for a driver’s license, bearing the particulars, the serial number , the photograph attached to that registration card, the date of birth, the calibre of weapon that the license was issued for etc”.
” I want to say also that the issue of crime prevention does not only rest on the Police. Whereas the Police must play a leading role, I think all of us at some point are affected by crime. So we have a moral responsibility to assist the police in ensuring that criminals are placed where they are supposed to be placed,” Hon. Blackmoore concluded.