The government of Dominica has announced a one-month amnesty on guns and illegal possession of ammunition.
The amnesty is aimed at encouraging people in possession of illegal firearms or ammunition to surrender them to the police without fear of prosecution.
National Security Minister Rayburn Blackmoore announced that the amnesty would begin next month and end on October 31, 2023.
He also said that the government plans to amend existing legislation to impose stiffer penalties for gun-related crimes, including denying bail to persons awaiting trial on such charges. The proposed amendments will be presented to Parliament after the amnesty period ends.
Blackmoore urged those in possession of illegal firearms or ammunition to take advantage of the amnesty and surrender them at any police station.
He stressed that the amnesty is not a license to commit crimes with firearms and that those found guilty of doing so after the amnesty period will face a minimum of five years in jail.
He also warned that anyone found using an illegal firearm to hurt or kill someone will be jailed until the trial date of the case.
Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit has also urged those in possession of illegal firearms to turn them into the police, especially after the island recorded 12 murders so far this year.
Skerrit emphasized that illegal firearms are a serious threat to public safety, and that the police are taking a zero-tolerance approach to gun-related crimes.
He also warned that trading firearms can have deadly consequences, as some buyers may use them to commit violent crimes.
The proposed gun and ammunition amnesty is a step towards making Dominica a safer place.
It is hoped that the amnesty will encourage people to give up their illegal firearms and ammunition, and that the proposed legislative changes will help deter gun-related crimes.