March 21, 2012 – Kosovo Law Institute (KLI) as part of the Security Forum has published the analysis “Control of small arms and light weapons in Kosovo: Progress and Challenges” with the support of organization “Safer world” within the project “Putting Communities at the center of efforts to control Small Arms and Light Weapons” financially supported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Norway. The analysis focuses on policy making and decision-making on strengthening SALW control in Kosovo and in the progress made in drafting the legal framework that regulates this area, focusing on laws and strategies and their implementation.
The paper was presented at a front roundtable panel composed of members of the Security Forum, representatives from the Ministry of Internal Affairs, security experts and other relevant actors.
The main findings of the analysis point out that Kosovo’s responsible security institutions have not yet managed to put in control or significantly reduce the large number of SALW that circulate in the territory of Kosovo. “Even after a decade, SALW still present serious danger and concern for the safety and life of Kosovo’s citizens. The SALW continue to be the main cause of the overwhelming majority of murders and incidents”, said Adem Gashi.
The analysis point out that Kosovo has made significant progress in legal terms and in the creation of advanced policy papers drafted through the Law on Weapons, as well as the SALW control and Collection Strategy in Kosovo. The law was followed by the issuance of 17 administrative instructions, which specifically regulate all the rights, obligations and procedures for issuing gun permits, as well as the issue of the arms market.
This complete legal basis and the SALW control strategy did not respond properly to law enforcement agencies. The key position for the functionalization and implementation of the MIA strategy has not been fulfilled, as the National Coordinator for SALW has not been appointed. This represents a failure of institutions towards effective implementation of the MIA strategy. A serious problem in the effective implementation of law and strategy, according to the analysis, is the lack of a common database for all three links of justice institutions, KP, the State Prosecutor and the Kosovo Judicial Council. This problem directly impacts on policy making, as it does not allow accurate assessment of the lags and challenges that need to be addressed consistently. Furthermore, UCCK’s statistical data show exactly the number of wounded and those killed by firearms, which is not automatically incorporated in the KP database, despite the police notification of each case.
The KP faces a lack of efficiency in filing the documentation of applicants for a gun permit, thus dragging the very bureaucratic process. Even, the KP, besides the administrative issue, also has a great responsibility in investigating, collecting information and preventing illegal trade in this process. These KP capacities, including tracking, are still deficient and have not provided any productivity so far, as foreseen by the Strategy. The KP remains an institution with a reactive approach and does not adhere to intelligence-based technology.
According to the analysis, the two very important processes, which are expected to make great returns in the introduction of SALW, are the process of legalization and amnesty. However, the implementation of these initiatives requires the fulfillment of conditions that currently do not exist, such as the confidence of citizens on high level to these initiatives as well as near and easy access to collection points. Moreover, the issue of northern Kosovo, where citizens reject the implementation of Kosovo’s laws, presents a challenge to other parts of the country.
The judicial and prosecutorial system in Kosovo continues to have a frivolous approach and inadequate punitive policy as far as the problem of illegal SALW is concerned. Sentence imposed in cases of illegal possession of weapons over 90% are sentence with a fine and a condition, despite legal provisions, which allow sentence of effective imprisonment of up to 8 years. The current practice of judges in terms of sentence proves that arms possession in Kosovo is considered and judge as a minor offense, even as an easy misdemeanor.
Participants from the institutions responsible for the SALW control in Kosovo have pledged to work on improving the SALW control by implementing the recommendations that arise from this analysis.