15th Regional Meeting of the South-East Europe Firearms Expert Network - SEEFEN

On 26 and 27 October 2021, the SEEFEN meeting brought together investigators, prosecutors, customs officials, forensic experts and border police representatives from South East Europe, Belarus and Ukraine for the 15th time. SEEFEN  serves as a platform for focused discussions on the new threats and challenges and the way forward in responding to serious, organized, and cross-border firearm-related crime.

Representatives of the Swedish and Slovenian Police introduced the issue of trafficking of hand grenades to and from the Western Balkans to the EU member states, EU best practices in this area and the way ahead towards increased cooperation in this regard. This session was wrapped up by a forensic expert’s presentation on arson and explosives examination, which was followed by lively discussion and numerous questions from participants.

The online investigations of gun-related crimes, including illicit arms trafficking, were also discussed during the meeting, as well as new firearm-related threats detected in the EU member states. These emerging threats were presented together with potential vulnerabilities that might arise in the Western Balkans as a result.

EUROPOL presented the risks and threats of illicit trafficking through parcel delivery of firearms, components and ammunition, and EMPACT followed with the presentation of the new Operational Action Plan (OPA) firearms EMPACT 2022, as well as presentation of future modalities of cooperation.

In addition, SEESAC announced its further support through the implementation of the Regional IPA Project “Support for enhancing the fight against the illegal possession, misuse and trafficking of small arms and light weapons (SALW) in the Western Balkans”, which was launched in September 2021. This new Project specifically aims to strengthen the strategic and operational capacity of the Western Balkans authorities to conduct firearms investigations as well as exchange information within the region and with the EU on illegal possession, misuse and trafficking of SALW and their ammunition.

The SEEFEN meeting, a platform for increased cooperation among law enforcement agencies in SEE and beyond to combat illicit trafficking of SALW and their ammunition, was organized under the auspices of European Union Council Decision (CFSP) 2019/2111 in support of SEESAC disarmament and arms control activities in South-East Europe.