Penal code not well adapted to Faroese conditions

28.01.2021 - 17:02
Penal code not well adapted to Faroese conditions
You may face prison for up to four years if you get caught with a rifle in your car, says lawyer
Defence lawyer Jógvan Páll Lassen warns against inadequate information regarding enforcement of the weapons law

Hundreds of rifles and shotguns are stored away in homes across the country.

This is not because the gun owners are criminals; rather, it is because leisure shooting, such as target shooting and – in particular, shooting hares – are popular pastimes for Faroese people.

But now, defence lawyer Jógvan Páll Lassen is warning the public that police have stepped up their enforcement of the weapons law.

“If I owned a rifle, I would ask a lawyer to call the police and ask what happens if I get caught in possession of the rifle in a public space.”

Amendment to the law

In the past, being caught with a rifle or a shotgun in a public place would result in a DKK 3,000 fine and confiscation of the weapon.

But due to an amendment made to the penal code in 2009, this is now regarded as an aggravated circumstance, which may result in a prison sentence of up to four years.

“In other words, if police come across a rifle in a public place in the Faroe Islands, they have the authority to arrest the person in possession of the rifle almost as if this took place in the most crime-infested areas of Denmark.”

 >> SEE ALSO Easier access to gun info

The jurisdiction of criminal law was recently transferred from Danish to Faroese authorities, he explains, but the Faroese authorities have not sufficiently sought to adapt Danish criminal law to Faroese circumstances.

“Most of the relevant laws have been more or less directly copied from Denmark. This particular provision, article 192a of the penal code, was amended as part of Denmark’s counter-terror response to the 9/11 attacks in New York and also in relation to gang-related crime in Denmark,” he says.

“I don’t think the Faroes feature on the same criminal spectrum as Denmark, so I think it would be a good idea to have a political debate on the relevance of these laws to Faroese society.”

 >> SEE ALSO Changes to police law

Lassen’s warning came in a recent post on his personal Facebook page in which he cited an example of one of his clients, who was caught driving with a disassembled rifle and 90 bullets.

The client was, he explains, heading out for a session of harmless target shooting with his friend. He was stopped by police for some reason not related to the weapon, and the officers then found the rifle.

He was initially slapped with a DKK 3,000 fine, but the following day police arrived at his door wanting to take him into custody.

“The court ruled against the police in this case, but the court believed there was reasonable suspicion that he had breached article 192a. He was released, but this could easily have turned into a very serious matter.”


Read the Faroese version of this article here

Translated by

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