The Albanian government is considering launching another amnesty for the collection of weapons that were taken from depots during the period of unrest in 1997.
Socialist Party MP Xhemal Qefali presented the proposal to the National Security Commission yesterday.
The Deputy Minister of the Interior, Besfort Llamallari said that weapons amnesties have been successful before so it is worth considering another.
“Every weapon and piece of ammunition handed over is a lesser risk for law and order and crime. Each initiative of this type is evaluated with great attention and seriousness by the Ministry of the Interior and the State Police.”
While the Deputy General Director of the State Police Enver Dervishaj said that the delivery of illegal weapons is part of the government’s strategy:
“It is an obligation set by the government to have an amnesty within 2021 or within 2022.”
The last amnesty for weapons was in 2017 where only 1604 firearms were collected.
There have been three amnesties for weapons in the last 22 years and the government had previously announced that all weapons needed to be surrendered by 2024.
As for the success of previous amnesties, the number of surrendered weapons has been wholly insignificant with many still unaccounted for. In 1997, some 839 million ammunition unites were taken from army depots along with 16 million explosives and over half a million fire arms. To date, only around 40% have been returned.
In 2019, a large number of weapons and ammunition units were stoled from a military base near Vlora. According to the report, a number of automatic combat weapons, grenades, cartridges, combat rifles, and various other paraphernalia were lifted from the base, with many believing it was an inside job
Albania has been implicated as the centre of a Balkan-wide weapons trafficking network with firearms entering the country from Macedonia, Kosovo, and Montenegro.
“A part of the weapons that are smuggled in are manufactured in European countries (pistols). Another part of firearms along with explosives come from Montenegro, while traffickers from Kosovo and Macedonia are mainly responsible for smuggling converted firearms” – experts quoted by IBNA say.
There are approximately 210,000 illegal weapons in Albania, that’s one weapon for every 13 citizens.
It is also believed that a number of weapons stolen in 1997 are still being moved into Greece and Italy, decades later.
Earlier this year, the government announced plans to change the law on gun ownership, reducing the minimum age of gun licenses from 25 years to 22 years old.
The rate of gun deaths in Albania in 2016 (when data was last available) is 1.37% of all violent fatalities, higher than the US rate. More than 12,000 people have died from gun crime in Albania since 1991.