Are you aware of the dangers that weapons pose in everyday life, both at home and in public places? Did you ever ponder about the death toll caused by holding arms and how this can be prevented? According to the harrowing statistics, two thirds of all murders and attempted murders in Montenegro were committed by firearms. On top of this, over the past two years, 75 people in our country committed suicide by using guns. If we also take into account the number of injuries that result from holding small arms and light weapons, then it goes without saying that we all needed to address this issue urgently.
Solving the problem of illegal weapons and surplus ammunition is an issue of particular importance as it relates to the security of citizens. Each returned weapon could potentially mean a life saved! That’s why the Ministry of the Interior together with UNDP, OSCE and an NGO Center for Democratic Transition (CDT), with support from the EU and German Embassy, launched campaign “Respect life, surrender weapons”. Together we appeal to the citizens of Montenegro to surrender their illegally possessed weapons or to register them.
“Recently adopted Law on Weapons, which includes an amnesty provision, opened the possibility for Montenegrin citizens to surrender weapons they possess illegally or to register them, without consequences or questions about the origin. In this way, the Government is making a step toward improving the security of citizens. This campaign belongs to the entire society and we all as individuals and representatives of institutions have our stake in it,” said Raško Konjević, Minister of the Interior at the media conference organized on the occasion of the campaign launch.
European Union provided financial contribution to the UNDP for this campaign, through theSEESAC
Disarmament and Arms Control Activities in South East Europe (the so-called EUSAC project).
Respect for life, respect for human dignity, is one of the truly fundamental pillars of the system of values of the European Union, explained Mitja Drobnič, Head of the EU Delegation to Montenegro. “That is why I am particularly pleased that this campaign bears this title,” Mr. Drobnič emphasized.
Fiona McCluney, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative to Montenegro pointed out that “we are all aware that weapons are part of the tradition and heritage, not only in Montenegro, but also in most of the countries in the region. Still, it is necessary that we all understand that we have to change the practices that have negative consequences for individuals, families and the entire society.”
Weapons know no boundaries and this is why regional cooperation is particularly necessary.
One of the examples of this regional collaboration is the campaign “Respect life, surrender weapons”. UNDP is building on the experiences from its country offices and SEESAC programmes in Croatia, Bosnia & Herzegovina and Serbia, where similar initiatives were successfully implemented”.
Janina Hrebičkova, Head of the OSCE Mission to Montenegro emphasized the importance of active contribution of the citizens to this campaign: “The public not only needs to be well informed about the dangers inherent in the existence of dangerous and unsafe weapons and ammunition, but also to give its active contribution to reducing the threats posed by small arms and light weapons (SALW).”
“I believe that this initiative, as an excellent example of cooperation, will increase awareness among citizens and improve responsibility when it comes to rules and regulations on weapons,” said Gudrun Elisabeth Steinacker, German Ambassador to Montenegro.
Milica Kovačević from the Center for Democratic Transition (CDT) explained three simple steps for surrendering weapons:
1. Call toll-free lines 122 or 080 888 888
2. Inform the operators about the exact place where weapons are located. You will not be asked about the origin of weapons and will not suffer any legal consequences.
3. You will get detailed instructions on what to do next. Weapons must not be carried, as it is dangerous and against the law. All firearms will be collected by professionals on the spot.
Respect life, surrender weapons!