Kathleen Kavalec, Head of the OSCE Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), and Selmo Cikotić, BiH Minister of Security, signed today an agreement to implement a small arms and light weapons (SALW) control project over the next three years.
The project will provide resources to help police canine units better detect firearms and explosives, improve security at police SALW storage sites, harmonize legislative and regulatory framework for SALW deactivation, and equip at least two SALW deactivation centres. The project aims to aid police and other law enforcement agencies in BiH to reduce security risks related to illegal possession, misuse and trafficking of SALW and ammunition, and improve arms control.
“The widespread availability of illegal small arms and light weapons in Bosnia and Herzegovina, their misuse and cross-border trafficking, pose a grave threat to the security and safety of all citizens in BiH, the South-Eastern Europe region and beyond,” said Kavalec.
“It is striking that almost 96% of all criminal offences in which firearms were used in Bosnia and Herzegovina involved the use of illegally owned weapons. It is, therefore, of the utmost importance that we join forces and put in place mechanisms that will help improve arms control and save lives,” added Kavalec.
Five OSCE participating States – the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Lichtenstein, and the United States of America – are funding the project. They have committed EUR 2.5 million out of the planned project budget of EUR 3.5 million, while fundraising will continue throughout the project implementation.
The project will also support the development of an integrated database of all SALW and explosives related crimes and incidents in BiH, and help raise institutional and public awareness about SALW related security risks.
“This project will directly contribute to the implementation of the BiH Small Arms and Light Weapons Control Strategy and of the Roadmap for a sustainable solution to the illegal possession, misuse and trafficking of small arms and light weapons in the Western Balkans,” said Cikotić.
“The signing of the Protocol represents the continued co-operation between the BiH Ministry of Security and the OSCE on the issue of small arms and light weapons control. We are grateful to the OSCE, its participating States contributing to this project, and the Mission to BiH, for being ready to respond to our call for assistance and for helping us address some of the priority needs when it comes to improving security and safety in Bosnia and Herzegovina.”
The OSCE Mission to BiH is mandated with strengthening human rights, democratic governance, and security co-operation. It supports all BiH institutions dealing with SALW and arms control to improve the overall security in the country.