Return of firearms to indigenous residents delayed

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The much-anticipated return of firearms, which were collected during the government’s firearm amnesty of 2015, was delayed after a planned trip to Region Seven to commence the distribution process was on Sunday thwarted due to inclement weather conditions.

The Ministerial team at the Eugene. F. Correia International airport before the trip was cancelled

According to the Department of Public Information (DPI), a team headed by Minister of Public Security Khemraj Ramjattan that also included Minster of Indigenous People’s Affairs Sydney Allicock and Minister of Public Affairs Dawn Hasting-Williams, was on site to depart the Eugene. F. Correia International Airport to facilitate the distribution.

The team was to meet with residents of 11 indigenous communities at Chinoweng, Phillipai and Kamarang.

In addition to the firearms, they were also taking along 121 permits to distribute to the residents. However, weather reports coming out of the region advised against the trip.

Minister Ramjattan said the government is very disappointed by the delay.

“It is important that we get there because a lot of the indigenous persons are desirous of having their firearm licenses and their firearm returned, we had a long period to ensure that their licenses are obtained,” he told the DPI.

The Minister explained that the process of returning the relinquished firearm took a while because all relevant information had to be collected in accordance with the firearm board.

“I want the people there to know from those 11 villages that we are going to make every effort as early as possible to make the deliveries,” he said.

Minister Allicock said persons have trekked from very long distances to meet up at the respective locations either to receive their firearms or their permits to purchase firearm. However, safety remains important.

“For safety we have just decided not to make the trip because we have received reports that there are thunderstorms and rain in all three locations,” Minister Allicock told DPI.

Members of Indigenous communities back in 2015 had participated in the Ministry of Public Security’s gun amnesty programme, relinquishing their unlicenced firearms. The Ministry’s plan was to regularise the system, to allow for every firearm holder to be licenced.

Of the 140 firearms received from Region Seven indigenous villages, during the amnesty of 2015, only nine of were serviceable and were being returned to the respective owners.

The Ministry will be working towards a new date for the distribution.

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