Worrying news on Serbia’s private security industry

by Limbic on June 18, 2008

A recent discussion with a friend working at the  South Eastern Europe Clearinghouse for the Control of Small Arms and Light Weapons (SEESAC) alerted me to what is apparently a serious concern for UN Arms Control experts in Serbia, its unregulated Private Security Industry.

From a 2005 report “SALW and Private Security Companies in South Eastern Europe:  A Cause or Effect of Insecurity?” [PDF 2mb]

The situation in Serbia is probably of the greatest concern in the region. At the current moment there is no direct  legislation that addresses the private security market. This has meant that the industry, while extensive and  well  developed,  contains  some  companies  that  are  essentially  fronts  for  organised  crime  organisations.  The  current regulations covering SALW are also of concern. Weapons are owned by and licensed to the individual  guard meaning that there is a greater potential for their misuse. Further, automatic military style weapons are  commonly used by the industry despite their being inappropriate for such usage. The report recommends that  the government adopt a licensing system as soon as possible that will begin to eliminate the more unprofessional  parts of the industry. In the interim it is vital that international employers of security services in the country adopt  some basic principles in order to ensure that the company they employ is professional.

This essentially means that those non-police armed paramilitaries one sees in Serbia see guarding banks, building sites and factories take their weapons home with them. Some of them are the heavily armed divisions of Organised Crime groups and they are potentially armed foot-soldiers in militias or paramilitary groups.

I have noticed these guys before. Their vehicles sometimes have police like flashing lights mounted on them (although blue lights seem to be reserved for cops) and are sometimes very hard to distinguish from police, since often they wear the SWAT style overalls that the elite Gendarmes wear.

Unfortunately so little is getting done in Serbia these days. Projects and initiatives are delayed as the government is agreed and even when there is a stable government, arguing over Kosovo takes precedent over disarming security guards, economic stability and cleaning up the environment.

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