Advancing the Capacities of the Ministry of Interior in the Field of Custody Chain, Crime Scene Investigations and the Ballistic Laboratory in the Field of Operations and Investigations in Trafficking of Firearms and Firearms Criminality

The project under implementation by UNDP Serbia supports the Ministry of Interior of Serbia to improve its capacities for the investigation of illicit SALW misuse, trafficking, and possession, focusing on strengthening the ballistic capacities of the Ministry of Interior. By improving the quality of investigations of illicit SALW misuse, trafficking, and possession through valid forensic evidence, the project will contribute to stronger legal proceedings and an increased number of SALW-related convictions.

Specifically, the project supports the development of SALW-related standard operating procedures (SOPs) on the chain of custody of law enforcement, crime scene investigation, packaging and tagging of evidence, and the development of an “open case file” for ballistic examination, which will facilitate the tracing of evidence throughout the chain of custody at all times, increasing thus the quality of investigations in cases of SALW- misuse, trafficking, and possession. The project is also supporting the development of a database where all evidence collected will be gathered and documented in order to make it easier to follow the custody chain and the last owner, while equipment for all CSI teams in Serbia will be also procured.

Furthermore, the project facilitates preparations for the accreditation process of the crime scene investigation infrastructure in Serbia, which will help prove that a forensic result and/or the related evidence has been retrieved in the most accurate and reliable way possible. This is essential for a transparent presentation of evidence within judicial proceedings, ensuring mutual trust related to the validity of evidence and fair legal procedures. It will also support generate reliable forensic evidence for more efficient cross-border exchange of reliable and consistent ballistic evidence.

Also, a Laboratory Inventory Management System (LIMS) will facilitate users to easily pull relevant information related to the typical forensic workflow, while the establishment of “open case file” at the central lab in Belgrade will enable adequate storage and tracking of the bullets, cartridge cases and wadding collected from unsolved gun crime scenes.

Finally, given the high percentage of criminal reports of domestic violence dismissed by the prosecution due to the lack of evidence and unwillingness of the victims to testify, the project envisages a combination of capacity building activities and the development of relevant procedures for improving the collection of evidence related to domestic violence cases. By improving police capacities for collecting evidence and conducting criminal investigations in reported cases of domestic violence, the project will support the Ministry of Interior to better tackle the cases of SALW-related domestic violence, and contribute to fairer legal proceedings and merit penalties from the justice system for the perpetrators of these criminal offenses.

Budget: US$958,284

Implementing period: October 2019 – September 2021

Results achieved as of 31 December 2020:

  1. The project enabled the tracing of evidence throughout the chain of custody through the amendment of the SOPs on the chain of custody of law enforcement, CSI, and packaging and tagging of evidence.
  2. The project supported the preparation of the CSI infrastructure accreditation in line with the ISO 17020 standard. The accreditation will help prove that forensic results and/or the related evidence have been retrieved most accurately and reliably possible. This is essential for a transparent presentation of evidence within judicial proceedings, ensuring mutual trust related to the validity of evidence.
  3. The project helped gain a better understanding of the necessary capacities for the collection of evidence and for conducting criminal investigations in reported cases of domestic violence through related analysis on domestic violence.
  4. The project enabled the CSI units to increase the quality of their work through the provision of necessary specialized equipment and training on the use of the procured equipment.
  5. The project facilitated adequate storage and tracking of the bullets, cartridge cases, and wadding collected from unsolved gun crime scenes through the establishment of the open case file.
  6. The project also enabled an adequate storage room of the surrendered evidence through the installation of a reception room and the provision of transfer storage equipment.
  7. The project helped improve the effectiveness of firearm testing and increase the safety of the ballistic experts through the installation of a water tank for test firing and delivery of related training.

Read more about the project’s achievements on UNDP Serbia website: [ENG] and [BCMS].

Reduce Risk - Increase Safety – Towards Ending SALW Misuse in Domestic Violence Context

The project under implementation by UNDP Serbia aims to reduce the misuse of firearms in the context of violence against women, domestic violence, and other forms of gender-based violence by improving practices and procedures related to criminal justice response to SALW misuse, setting up the basis for evidence-based policy making, increasing the awareness among the general population on the dangers of illicit SALW possession and misuse, and developing knowledge packages for risk reduction of firearms misuse in the context of gender-based violence.

The project works towards ensuring a resource and information base that will enable monitoring of practices looking at the correlation between gender-based violence and the misuse of SALW, and eventually, evidence-based policy making. Better data collection will enable managing the risks of SALW misuse in the domestic violence context. It will contribute to the effectiveness of the interventions, which is a precondition for the prevention of repetition of the SALW misuse in the context of domestic violence. The project is also aimed at developing and implementing prevention programmes that will contribute to deconstructing gender stereotypes and will lead towards greater awareness among men and women on the danger of misuse of firearms in the context of gender-based violence. The project also improves the existing protection practices, including criminal-justice response to work towards ensuring victims’ safety. The project is thus focused on better risk management in addressing fiream use in the context of domestic violence performed by capacitated professionals through coordinated and integrated service.

Budget: US$294,462

Implementing period: September 2019 – December 2021

Results achieved as of 31 December 2020:

  1. The project led to an increased understanding of the dominant narrative employed by the media when reporting on cases of SALW misuse in the context of domestic violence, through a qualitative analysis of the media reporting on the use of firearms and its effects. The analysis has contributed to raising the awareness of journalists with regards to the impact of firearms in domestic violence.
  2. The project also helped increase media attention on the issue of SALW misuse in the context of domestic violence, as well as increased public awareness about gender aspects of SALW misuse through three social media campaigns.
  3. The project conducted an analysis of the risk assessment and risk management process in the work of specialist SOS helplines for women victims of violence. Besides capturing the practices of SOS helplines, this analysis helps inform on cases of domestic violence involving firearms that are not reported to institutions. One of the main findings of the analysis is that firearm use in the context of domestic violence, especially if the perpetrator’s profession involves carrying a weapon, is an obstacle to reporting the case to institutions due to fear. Therefore such high-risk cases remain unrecorded by institutions and out of their focus.

Publications:

  1. A Portrait Against A Landscape: Analysis of Media Coverage of Firearm Misuse in Violence Against Women Committee by Men, UNDP Serbia [BCMS] [ENG]
  2. Analiza medijskih objava o problemu nasilja prema ženama (Analysis of media reporting on cases of violence against women), UNDP Serbia [BCMS]

A blog on firearms misuse in the domestic violence context - Safer with a gun at home? – Women in Serbia say no - was published on UNDP Serbia website: [BCMS] [ENG]