Be on the Right Side – Choose Life without Weapons!

Sep 11, 2013

The cantons of Sarajevo, Central Bosnia, Tuzla, Zenica-Doboj and Canton 10 have launched a campaign to collect illegal weapons and explosive ordnances “Choose Life without Weapons”. The campaign, which is already being implemented in Republika Srpska and Brčko District of BiH, aims to make the lives of citizens safer through surrender of illegal weapons.

“Choose Life without Weapons” is a joint message that was sent at a press conference to all citizens by the Ministers of the Interior and Police Commissioners of five cantons in the Federation of BiH. The campaign will be implemented simultaneously throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina while respecting the principles of the International Small Arms Control Standards (ISACS), and will be carried out by the cantonal Ministries of the Interior, Ministry of the Interior of Republika Srpska and Brčko District Police, with the support of UNDP, the British Embassy to BiH, ICRC, OSCE and EUFOR.

“I believe that we all need to say “Enough!” because every week we are witnesses to a dozen incidents with illegal weapons. According to UN estimates, since the end of the war almost 4,000 demobilised soldiers have committed suicide using illegal weapons. Also, our research shows that there are still 750,000 illicit weapons in the country. It is our duty and obligation to work jointly to prevent accidents and loss of human life caused by illegal weapons, to ensure that our children grow up in a safe  environment,” said Yuri Afanasiev, UN Resident Coordinator in BiH.

“Weapons are dangerous and let us not allow them to be found where they do not belong ,” said Samir Šut, head of the uniformed police of the Zenica-Doboj Canton, while the Minister of the Interior of Canton 10, Milan Juranić, added: “We urge and appeal to all those who still keep weapons or explosive ordnances stashed somewhere in their homes to report it to the police without fear of sanctions, with a warning note that the citizens should not bring weapons and explosives into a police station on their own, but should instead call the phone number 122, after which police officers will come and take over the dangerous ordnance”.

Colonel Rob Tomlinson, military attaché of the British Embassy to Bosnia and Herzegovina, said: “Each collected piece of illegal weaponry means potentially a saved life,” and added that the illegal weapons collection campaign was crucial for the security and stability of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

“Illegal weapons are misused on a daily basis as evidenced by numerous incidents, accidents, injuries, cases of violence and suicides,” said Nermin Pećanac, Minister of the Interior of the Sarajevo Canton. “The collection activities will succeed only if they take place simultaneously throughout the country. This will help further build the capacity of State institutions, especially law enforcement agencies, in the fight against the illegal use of weapons which affects the availability of weapons in BiH and raising public awareness of the negative aspects of illegal possession, use of weapons, prevention of misuse of weapons and promoting post-conflict trust building”.

The Minister of the Interior of the Tuzla Canton, Zoran Teofilović, added that the reduction of illegal weapons and ammunition in circulation would lead to the reduction of all forms of socially undesirable phenomena and increased public safety.

The Minister of the Interior of the Central Bosnia Canton, Jozo Lučić, reiterated that the time had come for all citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina to start feeling safe and to live a life without weapons.

The voluntary surrender of illegal weapons prevents their widespread use which causes death, injury and psychological trauma.

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