National weapons registration and record-keeping system established in Montenegro

“Establishing the national system for registration and record-keeping of the weapons owned by citizens will contribute to the overall development of the country and its integration in the European Union,” said Mr. Ivan Brajović, Minister of the Interior of the Government of Montenegro at the official presentation of the system which was developed in line with the national and European laws in this field, in partnership between the Ministry of the Interior of the Government of Montenegro and the United Nations Development Programme.

Mr. Ivan Brajović, Minister of the Interior of the Government of Montenegro also said: “Control and reduction of small arms and light weapons (SALW) is a part of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that the Ministry of the Interior signed with the UNDP and the OSCE in Montenegro in November 2010. Its main purpose was to contribute to strengthening and promotion of capacities of the services in charge for implementation of the law in regard to the SALW, as well as to establish mechanisms for prevention of armed violence with application of appropriate standards and policies. Subsequently, the Ministry of the Interior developed a programmatic solution and, together with the UNDP Montenegro, conducted procurement of equipment for registration of weapons with an aim to implement the EU standards in this domain.”

Mr. Alexander Avanessov, UN Resident Coordinator/UNDP Resident Representative to Montenegro said: “Deploying a weapons registration system in Montenegro means that thousands of weapons will be registered in full compliance with the national and EU legislation in this field. This makes a clear contribution towards country’s sustainable development, respect for international humanitarian law and reduction of armed criminality and violence.” He also emphasized that the National SALW Commission is a critical counterpart, without which no activities could commence. “Therefore, I look forward to the Government’s next step – re-establishing of the Commission and a work-plan for the National Commission including but not limited to the update of the Strategy and preparation of an Action Plan,” Mr. Avanessov concluded.

Nataša Starovlah Knežević, Head of the Central Information System at the Ministry of the Interior of Montenegro presented the national weapons registration system. She explained that when the new law on weapons comes into effect, SALW will be divided in 4 categories:

Military weapons, explosives, i.e. weapons that cannot be owned by natural persons;
Natural and juristic persons will be able to possess and carry weapons, with a special permit; In order to buy weapons it is necessary to obtain a permit from the Ministry of the Interior. Furthermore, this category covers requests for collecting old weapons, that according to the new Law also require obtaining of a permit for possession; natural persons can also obtain two types of weapons licence – a permit to possess and a permit to possess and carry;
Gas weapons and electric polarizers will have to be registered, but a permit to obtain them will not be required;
Sprays and sprayers can be owned by persons over 16 years of age, which according to the old law was not possible, because sprays and sprayers were characterized as chemical weapons.

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Establishing of the national registration and record-keeping system for weapons in citizens’ possession is one of the activities within the Project for reducing and control of small arms and light weapons in Montenegro (SALW), which utilizes and enhances local capacities with an aim to contribute to the overall development of the country and its EU integration. This activity, in the total value of 141,000 EUR, was conducted with the support of the Regional UNDP Programme – SEESAC (South Eastern and Eastern Europe Clearing House for the Control of Small Arms and Light Weapons)*, as a part of the European Council Decision 2010/179/CFSP within the EU Strategy to combat the illicit accumulation and trafficking of SALW and their ammunition. The project is implemented in partnership between the Ministry of the Interior, UNDP and the OSCE Mission in Montenegro.

There are 105 000 registered small arms and light weapons in Montenegro – this means that every sixth citizen owns a registered weapon, while many more possess illegal weapons. This widespread existence of weapons leads to citizen insecurity and, in the longer term, threatens the development of the country.  Therefore, the Ministry of Interior and Public Administration, OSCE Mission to Montenegro and UNDP Montenegro signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in November 2010, agreeing to upgrade capacities for regulating small arms and light weapons, and reducing the number. The intention was to reduce armed violence and increase the security of Montenegrin citizens.

UNDP Montenegro has participated in a successful endeavour of handling one of the main challenges in the Western Balkan referring to the practical implementation of legal and political commitments in the area of SALW reduction and control, including the UN Programme of Action on SALW and other relevant documents and resolutions.

The UNDP and OSCE will continue to provide technical assistance to the National SALW Commission.

This Commission will be instrumental for:

Implementing the Strategy and Action plan;
Planning and execution of a Public awareness campaign once relevant changes in the Law have been made. Specifically, changes to the Law on Weapons were approved by the Parliament on March 31st 2011; however, the necessary amnesty provision for return/legalisation of illegal weapons has not been included. It was concluded that necessary changes should be planned for the new Law on Weapons or amendments of the Law in order to organise a public awareness campaign on the issue of the return, collection and destruction of illegal weapons.

* The South Eastern and Eastern Europe Clearinghouse for the Control of Small Arms and Light Weapons (SEESAC) has a mandate from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Regional Cooperation Council (RCC) to further support all international and national stakeholders by strengthening national and regional capacity to control and reduce the proliferation and misuse of small arms and light weapons, and thus contribute to enhanced stability, security and development in South Eastern and Eastern Europe.