Illegal weapons

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Justice in Kosovo has reported on illegal weapons that Kosovo Citizens use.

The questions covered were: How were firearms used for celebrations during November celebrations? How and why the citizens were allowed to celebrate with firearms in front of the Kosovo government? How has this situation led to the injury of the 14 year-old Egzon Maliqi and Avni Zeneli?

How many illegal weapons exist in Kosovo? Why is the Ministry of Internal Affairs not confiscating the guns of hunters who do not possess valid permits?

What kind of punishments are courts in Kosovo imposing on weapon-owners without permits?

What measures does the new Criminal Code foresee for those who fire guns during celebrations?

Justice in Kosovo also showed footages of citizens shooting guns in front of government as well as the stories of people who were injured by stray bullets.

The program treated this problematic issue showing that although the shots were seen and heard by hundreds of people, the Kosovo Police was not quick in opening any investigations. This is verified on the report of Kosovo Police which said that not one investigation has been initiated yet.

Even though Kosovo Police and NGOs have appealed to stop the shots with firearms during celebrations, these appeals have been found to be ineffective as the situation continues to remain worrying.

The report explained that during the Flag Day celebration there were four persons arrested, who were caught firing in the air.

Egzon Makiqi, a 14-year-old from the village of Reznik in the Vushtrri municipality was injured on his back by a stray bullet on July 2013.

“I’ve been with my cows in the field when the bullet hit me,” Egzon said. He went on saying that prior to him becoming wounded he heard gun shots coming from the next village.

According to his mother, no one has taken a responsibility for this act.

Another case of injuries emanating from stray bullets is the case related to Avni Zeneli from Podujeva. Zeneli was reported to have been spending time at the backyard of his house, when he had received one of the stray bullets.

It is believed that the bullet which hit Mr Zeneli originated from a festive event of wedding celebrations. A similar risk threatens the safety and health of many other Kosovo citizens who are exposed to this risk on a daily basis. This happens because since the last war in Kosovo it is estimated that there are 400 thousands firearms left around. This would amount to almost every fourth citizen in the country being in possession of a firearm – said the report of Justice in Kosovo.

The report also pointed out that the Kosovo Police has confiscated about 16, 344 firearms.

Although the Criminal Code of the Republic of Kosovo provides sentences of up to eight years in prison for those who are caught firing or possessing weapons, domestic courts in most of the cases have imposed penalties.

Justice in Kosovo interviewed Nazim Sahiti from the Forum for Civic Initiatives who said that such policy for sentences is meaningless.

“What we’ve addressed during our campaigns has been the improvement of the policy of low penalties, which our courts impose,” said Mr. Sahiti.

In Kosovo, one can be punished much more severely if they drive without a driving licence, whereas being in possession any weapon receives a much more lenient treatment , said Ferdinand Nikolla, from NGO “Saferworld” in Kosovo.

On the other hand, Hamdi Ibrahimi – lawyer in the District Court in Prishtina recognized that the majority of sentences for weapon possession are associated with fines pronounced as punishment. According to him, this is because the Criminal Code of Kosovo has allowed the judges to be flexible and choose whether they want to punish somebody by imposing a fine or pressing charges for imprisonment.

However, according to Mr. Ibrahimi, the new Criminal Code of Kosovo will directly prevent judges to impose penalties in those cases when somebody fire in air with firearms.