Small arms and light weapons survey of Moldova
Saferworld and the Chisinau based Institute for Public Policy (IPP) have been conducting a comprehensive survey of the small arms and light weapons (SALW) situation in the Republic of Moldova over the last six months for the UNDP South Eastern Europe Clearinghouse for the Control of Small Arms and Light Weapons (SEESAC). Research was conducted in both the Government controlled territory of Moldova and the territory that has been administered by the separatist Transdniestrian authorities since the end of the period of armed conflict in 1992. Consultation meetings on the preliminary findings were conducted with the Moldovan Government in late 2005 and the Survey has now been reviewed by both the Moldovan Government and other stakeholders, including the Transdniestrian authorities. - Research indicates that there are only 50,578 weapons registered to individuals (1.6 per 100 citizens) and rates of licit SALW possession are low in Moldova in comparison to neighbouring states (14.7 per 100 in Serbia, and 2.1 per 100 in Albania). - It is estimated that for every registered weapon in Moldova there is at least one unregistered weapon, most of which are in the hands of non-criminal actors. Civilian weapon ownership in Moldova is on the increase and while the majority of the weapons in legal civilian possession are hunting-style weapons, there is a trend towards increased ownership of weapons for self-defence, such as pistols. However, available data indicates that the negative impact of SALW on public health and crime levels in Moldova is low in comparison with neighbouring states in South Eastern Europe (SEE) and that the number of crimes and deaths (including homicides) involving weapons in Moldova has been steadily decreasing during the period 2000 - 2005 in line with an overall improvement in levels of public safety and effective police campaigns against organised crime. - The territory under the control of the Transdniestrian authorities is highly militarised with an estimated 122,700 weapons in use by security agencies, mostly located in the Security Zone. According to information provided by the Transdniestrian authorities, only 4,250 weapons have been registered to individuals on the territory under their control. Further, the number of illicit weapons in the region is unknown. - In terms of International Transfer Controls, the Moldovan Ministry of Economy and Commerce maintains a dual-use goods list that is consistent with EU standards and therefore provides an excellent basis for guiding appropriate decision-making in this field. However, the current legal framework governing transfers of arms and dual use goods has inadequate provisions covering transhipment, licensed production and all forms of brokering. For example, although the legislation contains a reference to extra-territorial control of brokers, the law does not provide a mechanism for fulfilling this requirement. - Despite its unrecognised status, the Transdniestrian authorities regulate the use and possession of SALW according to their own internal laws and procedures. There are, however, no legal provisions for the international transfer of arms. The SALW Survey also indicates that much still remains to be improved in the current regulations for domestic SALW control in both regions, as the present regulatory system has many deficiencies.