Senior Croatian police officials and their Dutch colleagues on Wednesday marked the official completion of the CARDS 2004 twinning project "Combating Trafficking in Firearms, Ammunition and Explosives".
The objective of the EUR 850,000 project was to contribute to a more efficient prevention and suppression of organized crime and terrorism in Croatia by enhancing the institutional capacity of the Forensic Science Centre and the overall ability of the Ministry of the Interior to tackle the problems of illegal manufacturing and trafficking in firearms, ammunition and explosives in line with the EU standards.
Thirty Dutch and 150 Croatian police experts took part in the project which was launched in September 2007.
The project included the drawing up of amendments to the Firearms Act, the introduction of the Integrated Ballistics Identification System (IBIS), the drawing up of an action plan to mark firearms, the training of police staff and the procurement of equipment.
The project has made it possible for the Forensic Science Centre "Ivan Vucetic" to apply for an accreditation with the Croatian Accreditation Agency in order to obtain a licence that will make its findings recognised in the European Union and in other developed countries.
Paolo Berizzi of the European Commission Delegation to Croatia said the EC wanted to see Croatia adopt a new firearms act as soon as possible.
He added that it was important for the government and the ministry of the interior to demonstrate all administrative capacities to close negotiation chapters.
This should be seen as an improvement on that road, said Berizzi, recalling that in the last few years a number of projects involving the Ministry of the Interior and the Justice Ministry had been completed.
The ultimate goal is to improve living conditions and in that sense, the fight against organised crime improves living standards and creates an area of lasting security and justice, Berizzi said.
The new national police chief, Vladimir Faber, said that Croatia was recognised not only as a country of origin of illegal weapons, but as a country of transit for arms smugglers.
There is still a large quantity of illegal weapons in Croatia, and some of it is used for organised crime, despite the fact that the Ministry of the Interior has organised a number of campaigns to collect illegal weapons, Faber said.
A state secretary at the Ministry of the Interior, Ivica Buconjic, said that illegal weapons had to be put under control and that the ministry was ready for new amendments to the Firearms Act that would introduce stricter penalties for people holding illegal weapons. (Hina)