06/05/12 Amendment to the Explosive Substances Act

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Republic of Croatia, Ministry of the Interior
c/o Ranko Ostojic, Minister
Ulica grada Vukovara 33
10000 Zagreb

June 5, 2012

Subject: Amendment to the Explosive Substances Act

Dear Mr Ostojic,

I am writing you in regards to the Christmas and New Year's holiday when many animals and people, especially children, are hurt by exploding pyrotechnic devices.

Although discerning individuals and animal protection organizations appeal to citizens to stop using fireworks and other exploding devices which generate excessive noise during the holiday season, a certain number of citizens, mostly unsupervised minors, continue to terrorize their fellow citizens by setting off pyrotechnic devices.

During the holidays, fireworks are set off mostly by minors, and instead of holiday peace, citizens have to endure explosions and noise similar to those found on battlefields. The existing Explosive Substances Act is a dead letter and unenforceable by law, and appeals to prohibit explosions to protect people and animals yield no results. Although the Explosive Substances Act regulates the sale of pyrotechnic substances, including time of use and age limit, it is impossible to monitor the implementation of the legal provisions, in practice, primarily based on the high number of pyrotechnic usage.

Besides the danger they pose to people, a large number of animals suffer from heart attacks brought on by firework explosions during Christmas and New Year's Eve. The sheer noise of the explosions scares dogs, cats, birds and other pets and city animals who experience fear and trauma, while those who find themselves in the immediate vicinity of the explosions might get injured. Besides the danger of being directly injured by the explosive devices, the high level of noise may damage their hearing, which is much more sensitive than that of human beings, possibly resulting in psychological shock. Many panic-stricken animals run away from their homes, trying to escape the noise caused by the explosions. During the holidays, dog owners are often forced to give their dogs sedatives while taking them out for a walk so that they can handle the noise of the firecrackers, while we and other animal organizations are flooded with calls from worried citizens whose pets have ran away, scared by the exploding fireworks.

Italy has shown its civil development by prohibiting firework explosions in over 850 Italian cities and counties during New Year's Eve, with fines from 25 to 500 Euro. Because of the noise fireworks cause, they have been banned in cities like Milan and Venice, while in Torino the ban was made primarily because of animals, considering the fact that around 5,000 animals die each year from heart attacks brought on by firework explosions.

Therefore, we appeal to your ministry to make an amendment to the Explosive Substances Act to prohibit fireworks or other explosive substances during the Christmas and New Year's holidays, modeled on the progressive laws in neighboring Italy, or to determine a shorter time frame within which such substances may be used.

Animals do not enjoy fireworks and neither do most citizens who covet peace and safety for themselves and members of their family. A legal prohibition of fireworks is necessary in order to protect animals and children, the latter of which suffer firework-related injuries every year. With this prohibition, Croatia would join in the ethical circle of civilized communities, demonstrating that it wishes to spend the holidays, not in an atmosphere engulfed in war, but rather one overcome with peace and empathy for all living beings.

Since this reoccurring issue is brought to light every holiday season, and a civil petition for the change of the legal provisions regarding the use of pyrotechnics in the Republic of Croatia has been launched, we hope to cooperate with you on the amendment to the Explosive Substances Act. We remain at your disposal for any additional information or questions you may have.

In anticipation of your answer and cooperation, kind regards,

Luka Oman

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