19 November, Ohrid, 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 21 participants from three different institutions competent for processing firearms-related cases, the Prosecution, Ministry of Interior including border police, and Customs Administration. This is the second event of this series that covered the geographical south-west of the country, including the border crossings with Albania and Greece.
The primary goal of the event was to offer the practitioners a platform for the exchange of experiences and an opportunity to overview the implementation of the Criminal Procedure Code. Each of the institutions' representatives made a presentation of firearms-related cases showcasing their perspective and the challenges they face. The discussion after the presentations gave an insight into the issues faced by the practitioners in the implementation of the Criminal Procedure Code. The participants pointed out that competing competencies between the police and customs officials are often arising, knowing that both are part of the judicial police established with the new Law on Criminal Procedure and mandated to fight organized crime including firearms offences. The message the event sent was that this positive conflict of competencies is rather resolved with increased cooperation between both institutions, instead of having the one or the other dealing with the case exclusively.
The participants recommended further developing the exchange of information during pre-investigation, investigation, and indicting stages of firearms-related cases, as well as support for the development of the prosecutorial investigative centres, which are foreseen by the law but are still not operational. The need for a standardised format of information exchange between the institutions was emphasized and UNODC was asked to provide support in the future development of some type of operational guidelines that will set the standard for information exchange between national institutions involved in firearms cases.
This activity is implemented with the financial support provided by Germany, the United Kingdom, France, the Netherlands, Sweden, and Norway through the Western Balkans SALW Control Roadmap Trust Fund and supported by the European Union.