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Grillot, Suzette R.. 2010 ‘The Spread and Control of Small Arms in Croatia.’ Guns in the Balkans: Controlling Small Arms and Light Weapons in Seven Western Balkan Countries; Vol. 10 (No. 2), pp. 154-155. London: Southeast European and Black Sea Studies, Taylor & Francis. 1 June

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The Spread and Control of Small Arms in Croatia

General estimates of guns in Croatia reach well over one million (SEESAC 2006c, 3-9). Nearly one million weapons are believed to be in the hands of Croatian civilians alone - with approximately 350,000 of those being legal, registered guns. In addition, the Croatian military and police forces hold more than 250,000 weapons, of which nearly 200,000 are surplus arms - and one large weapons producer in Croatia continues to manufacture arms, largely for the US market (SEESAC 2006c, 3-9).

Two Croatian laws govern the control of small arms: 1) the 2007 Law on Weapons, and 2) the 2008 Act on Exporting and Importing Military Goods and Nonmilitary Lethal Goods. (10) According to the Law on Weapons, defense enterprises and private transport companies must be licensed to engage in the weapons trade by the Ministry of Interior. However, there are no legal obligations to consider export criteria in the decision-making process or to incorporate the use of import - export certificates and engage in the verification of arms shipments. There are also no legal provisions that regulate brokering. The 2008 Law on Military Goods stipulates that the Ministry of Economy, Labor and Entrepreneurship is responsible for issuing licenses for export and import of military goods and nonmilitary explosives. This law does cover the use of end-user certificates, brokering and export criteria based on the EU Code of Conduct.

Croatian border security is problematic. Many of Croatia's borders (particularly its border with Bosnia) are often left unguarded, and smuggling of all kinds (guns, drugs and women, in particular) is known to exist (author's interviews with Croatian officials at the Croatian Customs Service, MFA and MoD, July 2002, June 2003 and June 2008; author's follow-up correspondence, May 2006; Croatian MFA 2004)…

Nonetheless, Croatian authorities have had some success in stopping illegal arms movements, seizing illegal weapons and prosecuting those responsible. Individual arms smugglers found guilty of trafficking guns to Kosovo, for example, were sentenced to 5-11 months in jail (HINA 1999; London Press Association 2000; Small Arms Survey 2001, 177; EU Business 2006). Civil penalties are outlined in the arms trade law, with fines from $3000 to $15,000. Criminal penalties, however, are listed in the Croatian Penal Code 1997, Article 163, which states that those found guilty are subject to three months to three years in prison - unless the violation involves death. The penalty then could be five years to 'long-term imprisonment' (VERTIC 2009)…

(10) View laws at and (Croatian version only).

Sources Cited:
Croatian MFA. 2004. Press release 40/04, February 7.

SEESAC. 2006c. SALW survey of Croatia.
Belgrade: SEESAC.

HINA. 1999. Croatian court sentences arms smugglers for KLA, April 12.

London Press Association. 2000. Croatian police seize arms shipment destined for dissident
IRA. FBIS-EEU-2000-0728, July 28.

Small Arms Survey. 2001. Small Arms Survey 2001: Profiling the problem.
Geneva: Small Arms Survey.

EU Business. 2006. Croatia smashes international smuggling ring, June 9.

VERTIC. 2009. Extract. Unofficial translation. Croatia Penal Code 1997.

[US = United States; EU = European Union; MFA = Ministry of Foreign Affairs; MoD = Ministry of Defence]

ID: Q11610

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