Montenegro’s campaign to collect and legalize illicit weapons ends
PODGORICA – Ministry of the Interior of Montenegro (MoI), together with SEESAC, UNDP Montenegro, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in Montenegro, and the Center for Democratic Transition (CDT), completed the awareness raising campaign “Respect Life, Surrender Weapons” (Poštuj život, vrati oružje) on 14 June 2016.
Supported by the European Union (EU), with the funds secured through the EU Council Decision 2013/730/CFSP in support of SEESAC disarmament and arms control activities in South East Europe, the campaign aimed to promote legalization of small arms and light weapons (SALW), surrender of illicit SALW and to sensitize the public to the risk associated with firearms in the society.
In the past year, since 24 June 2015 when the campaign was launched, Montenegro collected 1079 weapons, 160 bombs, 623 parts of weapons and 15 266 bullets, while 387 weapons have been returned to the police by the citizens, Interior Minister Goran Danilovic told the media.
The Minister was joined by the UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative to Montenegro Fiona McCluney, the Head of the OSCE Mission to Montenegro Janina Hrebickova, the German Ambassador to Montenegro Gudrun Steinacker and representative of the civil society organization Center for Democratic Transition (CDT) Milica Kovacevic.
CDT worked together with the MoI in awareness raising and collections activities, including running a social media campaign and disseminating information in over 20 towns and municipalities, as well as accompanying police officers during the handover of illicit weapons by citizens.
The legalization period ended in March 2017, while amnesty for the surrender of illegally held weapons lasts for the duration of the law. Montenegro’s Law on Weapons was passed on 27 February 2015, envisaging an immediate, two-year long legalization campaign.
EUSAC builds directly upon SEESAC’s decade-long SALW Control work, particularly achievements made through the previous EU-funded SALW Control project, conducted during the 2010-2012 period under the Council Decision 2010/179/CFSP. The EUSAC project, designed in close cooperation with national authorities, works on the following five interrelated streams of activities:
- Increased security of stockpiles: through the renovation and security improvements to storages of arms and ammunition.
- Stockpile reduction: through the destruction of surplus arms and ammunition held in storages.
- Improved marking, tracing and registration of SALW: through the provision of support to the establishment or enhancement of existing weapons registration and record-keeping systems.
- Improved regional cooperation on awareness raising, information sharing and knowledge transfer: through the facilitation of regional cooperation between national institutions tasked with arms control.
- Implementation of collection and awareness raising campaigns
SEESAC has supported the implementation of numerous awareness-raising and collection campaigns throughout the Western Balkans since 2002. Most recently, SEESAC supported a three-month long campaign in Serbia “Use the Opportunity - Register or Surrender Illegal Weapons,” as a result of which some 7,500 pieces of SALW were either registered or surrendered. In 2014, SEESAC supported a year-long campaign in Bosnia and Herzegovina “Be on the Right Side - Choose Life Without Weapons” that came to a close in December last year and which resulted in a collection of over 11,000 pieces of SALW. From 2010-2012, SEESAC supported the implementation of the “Less Weapons, Less Tragedies” campaign in Croatia, as a result of which 1,753 pieces of firearms, 16,368 fragmentation weapons, 818,153 pieces of ammunition, and 620kg of explosives were collected.