UNODC and Colombian authorities to destroy almost 14,000 firearms on International Gun Destruction Day

BOGOTA, 6 July 2007 (UNODC) - A meltdown of nearly 14,000 firearms is to take place on 9 July, International Gun Destruction Day. Organized by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the Colombian Ministry of Defence, the national armed forces and the "Vida Sagrada" programme, the special ceremony will highlight the danger of illegal arms proliferation. Seventy-seven per cent of the firearms scheduled for destruction are illegal. Of those, 60 per cent were illicitly manufactured, 31 per cent are privately owned and 9 per cent belong to the armed forces.

Colombia has one of the highest homicide rates in the world. In 2005, 70% of over 17,000 homicides registered were committed with firearms. Cities registering the highest numbers of legal firearms were also those showing the lowest homicide rates. Conversely, cities with the highest murder rates were those with the lowest number of legal arms. Most homicides in Colombia are connected with the illegal ownership, manufacture and trade of firearms.

The ceremony has the support of the National Plant for Metal Work and Manufacture, SIDENAL. The molten metal will go towards the manufacture of school chairs and the construction of a monument in memory of the victims of violence and kidnapping in Colombia.

The event will take place on Monday 9 July, at 3:00 p.m. (local time) at SIDENAL headquarters, Sogamoso, witnessed by the Minister of Defence, Juan Manuel Santos Calderon; General Freddy Padilla León, Military Forces Commander; Father Alirio López, Director of "Vida Sagrada"; and Stefan Liller, UNODC Colombia.

UNODC recently published a report entitled Violence, Crime and Illegal Arms Trafficking in Colombia, which said the country needed to do more to crack down on arms trafficking. The report challenged the perception that Colombia was plagued by indiscriminate violence. Rather, the use of firearms was highly controlled and regulated by criminal gangs, rebels and the Government.

Since December 2005, UNODC has been the custodian of the Firearms Protocol supplementing the 2003 United Nations International Convention against Transnational Organized Crime.