10 December, Berovo, North Macedonia: The UNODC Global Firearms Programme (GFP) hosted a workshop to foster an inter-institutional exchange of information in firearms-related cases. The event gathered 27 participants from three different institutions the Prosecution, Ministry of Interior including border police, and Customs Administration, all competent for processing firearms-related cases. This is the fourth and final event of this series that focused on the geographical south-east of the country, including the border crossings with Bulgaria and Greece. With the series of four events on inter-institutional cooperation the whole territory of North Macedonia was covered and the first responders from the biggest border crossings with all neighbouring jurisdictions (Albania, Kosovo under UNSC resolution 1244, Serbia, Bulgaria and Greece) were engaged during the workshops and their experience was used to detect the bottlenecks in the implementation of the Criminal Procedure Code.
The workshop enabled the practitioners an overview of the implementation of the Criminal Procedure Code showcasing each of the institutions representing their perspective and the challenges they face in their daily work. The discussion focussed on the importance of the statements that the perpetrators give in front of the first responders police or customs, which statements are later rendered unusable in front of the court. This is raising the legitimate question posed by the practitioners why to put all that effort in getting statements from the suspects and following all the procedural aspects of the Criminal Procedure Code and all relevant bylaws if they can't be used in court. This further raised the debate over the changes that need to be introduced in the Criminal Procedure Code regarding the stages at which statements can be obtained from the perpetrators and placing more precise rules in the bylaws regarding the same issue.
This activity is implemented with the financial support provided by Germany, the United Kingdom, Sweden, France, the Netherlands, and Norway through the Western Balkans SALW Control Roadmap Trust Fund and supported by the European Union.