How to Combat Illicit Firearms Trafficking Effectively

November 09, 2023

EUAM Ukraine organised a series of seminars towards tackling the challenges of illicit arms trade for Ukrainian law enforcement agencies.

In a bid to fortify Ukraine’s stance against the possible rise of firearms trafficking because of war, the European Union Advisory Mission (EUAM) Ukraine took a proactive step by organising a series of seminars from 3 to 8 November. The events, held in key cities like Lviv, Uzhgorod, and Chernivtsi, saw the participation of 40 key stakeholders, including representatives from the regional National Police, Security Service, State Bureau of Investigation, State Border Guard Service of Ukraine, Public Prosecutor’s Office, as well as members of the academic community and forensic experts.

EUAM Ukraine’s experts spearheaded the initiative by delving into the intricacies of European Union legislation on arms trafficking. The focus was on vital directives such as the EU Firearms Directive 2021/555. Additionally, emphasis was placed on the utilisation of electronic evidence in relevant criminal proceedings. This not only bolstered the participants’ understanding but also empowered them with new methodologies for investigating firearms-related crimes, with a specific focus on intelligence-led policing.


Legislative Challenges and Enhanced Coordination in Firearms Trafficking Regulation

One of the key highlights of the seminars was a candid discussion on the legislative hurdles that hinder effective firearms trafficking regulation in Ukraine. Participants shed light on the challenges faced in national courts when dealing with this category of cases. The consensus that emerged was the urgent need for enhanced coordination among law enforcement agencies to combat the illicit trafficking of firearms, ammunition, and explosives.

“A unified legal framework is the linchpin in our collective efforts to counter firearms trafficking. These seminars mark a crucial step towards a safer Ukraine, where intelligence-led policing and enhanced coordination among law enforcement agencies play pivotal roles in curbing this pervasive threat.” – says Gerardo Moreno Abad, EUAM Senior Advisor on organised crime (weapons).


Safeguarding Against the Flow of Firearms

Addressing the specific challenges posed by firearms flowing from regions near the front line to other parts of the country, including through channels such as mail delivery services and public transportation, became a focal point of the discussions. Experts thoroughly discussed the nuances of countering this dangerous flow, showcasing a commitment to safeguarding public safety.

A significant portion of the seminars was dedicated to exploring the potential expansion of the firearms register. The proposal to include comprehensive information on all firearms, not just those in civilian use, gained traction. The emerging threat of 3D-printed firearms took centre stage, with experts dissecting the associated problems, especially in the realm of forensic examination.

In a notable consensus, the majority of participants advocated for a specialised law to regulate firearms trafficking, replacing the existing fragmented by-laws. This unified approach is seen as a crucial step towards creating a more robust and effective legal framework.

The seminars continued EUAM Ukraine’s ongoing efforts to bolster national institutions in their fight against firearms trafficking. The valuable insights and proposals generated during these sessions will inform future activities, guiding EUAM Ukraine to refine the legislative framework and enhance law enforcement and judicial practices. The Mission remains committed to providing expert advice to Ukrainian institutions, ensuring a comprehensive and strategic approach to combatting firearms trafficking in the region.