AMID THE media frenzy and speculation over the disappearance of Air France’s ill-fated Flight 447, the loss of two of the world’s most prominent figures in the war on the illegal arms trade and international drug trafficking has been virtually overlooked.
Pablo Dreyfus, a 39-year-old Argentine who was travelling with his wife Ana Carolina Rodrigues aboard the doomed flight from Rio de Janeiro to Paris, had worked tirelessly with the Brazilian authorities to stem the flow of arms and ammunition that for years has fuelled the bloody turf wars waged by drug gangs in Rio’s sprawling favelas.
Also travelling with Dreyfus on the doomed flight was his friend and colleague Ronald Dreyer, a Swiss diplomat and co-ordinator of the Geneva Declaration on Armed Violence who had worked with UN missions in El Salvador, Mozambique, Azerbaijan, Kosovo and Angola. Both men were consultants at the Small Arms Survey, an independent think tank based at Geneva’s Graduate Institute of International Studies. The Survey said on its website that Dryer had helped mobilise the support of more than 100 countries to the cause of disarmament and development.
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Buenos Aires-born Dreyfus had been living in Rio since 2002, where he and his sociologist wife worked with the Brazilian NGO Viva Rio.
“Pablo will be remembered as a gentle and sensitive man with an upbeat sense of humour,” said the Small Arms Survey. “He displayed an intellectual curiosity and a determined work ethic that excited and enthused all who worked with him.”
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According to the International Action Network on Small Arms Control (IANSA), Dreyfus’s work was instrumental in the introduction of landmark small arms legislation in Brazil in 2003. Under this legislation, an online link was created between army and police databases listing production, imports and exports of arms and ammunition in Brazil.
Dreyfus was an advocate of the stringent labelling of ammunition by weapons firms, arguing that by clearly identifying ammunition not only by its producer but also its purchaser, the likelihood of weapons being sourced by criminals from corrupt police or armed forces personnel is greatly reduced.