Project: Targeting weapons - misuse of weapons in Serbia

Montenegrin TV on arms possession

The problem of civilian arms possession was the topic of talk show “Otvoreno” RTV Montenegro on Decembar 7th at 8 pm. CENTRE’s Director Svetlana Djurdjevic Lukic was a guest as a regional expert on the topic. Zoran Radojevic, the representative of  Ministry of Interior, Gudrun Elizabeth Štajnaker, the Ambassador of Germany in Montenegro and Dragan Koprivica, director of Centre for Democratic Transition from Podgorica were discussing about the current action “Respect life, Return Weapons” in Montenegro.

CENTRE’s director was speaking on the results of action of legalization or surrendering illegally possessed weapons conducted in Serbia earlier this year. There are numerous actions considering of countries in region in the context of the commitments related to National Strategies for combating the proliferation of small arms and light weapons and the EU integration. The recent action in Serbia was connected with Law on Weapons and Ammunition passed on February 20th. During the discussion on this law in National Assembly, the original plan to provide a year for preparation of a campaign for legalization or surrendering illegally possessed weapons was abandoned as the Minister of Interior supported the initiative of several MPs for organization of campaign eight days after the publishing the law. The lack of time was the reason why campaign was not very well prepared.  The results demonstrate 7.500 arms pieces have been handed over, around 1100 explosive devices. Only surrendering of over 150.000 pieces of ammunition was a better result than previous action in 2007. Svetlana Djurdjevic Lukic stated that is necessary to carry out new research, as MoI presented only an older UNDP assessment of the number of illegal arms ranging between 200.000 and 9000.000. She stressed that motivation for firearms possession is a complex issue for research, and that there is a need to engage local civil society.

The Targeting Weapons platform was established by Eastern and South Eastern Europe Clearinghouse for the Control of Small Arms (SEESAC) in 2012, so that Serbian citizens could insert the comments about arms possession. The CENTRE conducted the analysis of 400 media reports on arms related incidents available at the platform for UNDP/SEESAC. CENTRE’s director underlined that more frequently victims are common citizens, although the media reports more frequently about criminal conflicts involving firearms use. The largest number of tragically outcomes is domestic violence, conflicts relating property and money, suicides. Women are five time more frequently victims than perpetrators of incidents. Svetlana was speaking on significant gender discrepancy in terms of arms possession, which results in hidden intimidations, as well as the importance of responsible use and protection of children. The most frequently reasons for arms possession are tradition and heritage of trophy arms, war conflicts, distrust in local groups and community in certain areas, lack of confidence in timely reaction of the police and judicial system, and the protection of family and property.

Svetlana Djurdjevic Lukic carried out a research on perceptions and opinions of young people in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2014, within regional project on human security, peace and reconciliation on Western Balkans and Turkey, supported by European Commission. She noticed the marks of previous war conflicts which influence on the attitude of arms possession. There were cases that surrendered arms were not destroyed by the local authorities but smuggled in abroad, and this is the one of the reasons contributing to distrust of citizens.

New Law on Weapons and Ammunition in Montenegro passed in March 2015 and ongoing action “Respect Life, Return Weapons” – support for legalization or surrendering illegally possessed weapons, raising the awareness and danger of illegal possession. This action is supported by the Delegation of European Union, UNDP, OSCE, Embassy of Germany in Podgorica and Centre for Democratic Transition.

You may watch talk show here.

Photo: German Embassy Podgorica