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

The Roadmap project “Reduce risk-Increase safety–Towards ending SALW misuse in domestic violence context” supported the reduction of the misuse of firearms in the context of violence against women, domestic violence (DV) and other forms of gender-based violence (GBV) by improving practices and procedures related to criminal justice response to SALW misuse. It set up the basis for evidence-based policy making, increased the awareness among general population on the dangers of illicit SALW possession and misuse, and developed knowledge packages for risk reduction of firearms misuse.

The project contributed to Roadmap Goals 2 and 4.

Key results achieved:

  • To support evidence-based and gender-responsive policy making, a series of analyses were developed assessing the impact of firearms misuse on GBV.[1] These included examination of the legal framework, femicides involving firearms, and institutional response, with a focus on judicial practice and response of the criminal justice system related to misuse of firearms in cases of domestic violence. All relevant stakeholders, both public institutions and non-governmental organizations, actively participated in knowledge development and dissemination. These knowledge products played a crucial role in shaping new legal and strategic documents, and in the design of training programs for first-line responders.
  • The project contributed to an enhanced access to continuous training for judiciary, police and other professionals on firearms misuse in the context of DV, through comprehensive e-learning. It developed three modules for the existing MoI e-training platform on recognizing, preventing, assessing and reducing the risk of firearm use in DV. Also, the e-training to improve multi-agency case management for increased safety of victims and reduced risk of firearm violence in the DV context was developed and launched  by the national Judicial Academy. In cooperation with the Ministry of Justice, the project developed and published guidelines for prosecutors, judges and multi-agency groups for cooperation and coordination on the collection of evidence and ensuring adequate protection and prosecution of cases of DV. In addition to this, the project’s risk assessment checklist and proposed measures to prevent the risk of firearms misuse for violence, were utilized in the police SOP for domestic violence cases, especially those involving firearms misuse, developed and accepted by MoI.  
  • The project explored the role of the healthcare system in the prevention of firearm misuse in DV. A policy paper was thus developed, mapping the relationship between DVe, SALW misuse and public health, as a foundation for short- and long-term actions. Related insights served as a basis for a new project[2] that developed a set of recommended, implementable and sustainable actions to strengthen the healthcare system’s role in the prevention of firearms misuse for domestic violence and contributed to a more in-depth understanding of the various dimensions (including gender) of suicide by firearms.
  • The project contributed to deconstructing gender stereotypes and increased public awareness on the dangers of firearms misuse in the context of GBV, including improved educational and preventive media reporting. It organized joint learning sessions of media, CSOs and institutions to discuss different models for establishing a multi-agency femicide review and to present the findings of the analysis of cases of femicides committed with firearms. In line with the communication strategy developed by the group “Journalists against Violence”, the project implemented two social media campaigns on the dangers and consequences of firearms misuse, which followed up on the findings of the analysis of cases of femicides committed with firearms. These activities led to remarkable media coverage and media interest in firearms misuse and domestic violence.
  • To support media in educational and preventative reporting, the project developed Guidelines for ethical and gender-sensitive media reporting on DV committed with firearms, a training module for the media on gender-sensitive media reporting on DV committed with firearms, and an analysis of media reporting on SALW and DV for the first half of 2021 that helps monitor the quality of media reporting on the cases of DV committed with firearms. To further raise awareness and improve availability of relevant information to the wider public, the project developed an informative guide for firearms license applicants and their family members on key facts on DV and firearms misuse, with information on the referral pathways for survivors of domestic violence. This guide followed an extensive consultation process with a wide range of institutional and non-governmental stakeholders.
  • A critical result of the project is the integration of firearms-enabled violence in the new strategy for combating GBV in Serbia for 2021-2025, adopted in spring 2021. At the invitation of the Government of Serbia, the project contributed to the development of this strategy taking stock of the findings of its knowledge products. Key aspects related to police procedures were integrated in the police SOP for DV cases, and the SOP is utilized regionally to inform police checklists regarding response to DV, developed in the Western Balkan region through UNDP SEESAC activities. Developed online trainings ensure sustainable access of professionals to knowledge on firearms misuse prevention.

Budget: US$294,462

Implementing period: September 2019 – December 2021

[1] 1) The in-depth analysis of the procedures and practices related to the SALW license denial, removal and revocation in the context of domestic violence, including existing procedures and practices related to the domestic violence committed by military and police officers. 2) The analysis of administrative data collection practices on the misuse of SALW in domestic and intimate partner violence. 3) A methodology and analysis of data on SALW and domestic violence in the period 2017-2020. 4) An analysis of cases of femicides committed with firearms.
[2] Implemented in the period September 2022-March 2023 through the Western Balkans SALW Control Roadmap Multi-Partner Trust Fund.