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The work of the Slovenian police is professional and legal

Today, on 19 July 2018, the State Secretary Boštjan Šefic responded to the Reports of the Legal Information Centre and Amnesty International on the work of the Slovenian police in procedures with migrants. 

As he pointed out, the Ministry of the Interior and the Police are implementing all that is defined and required by both national and European legislation, while respecting human rights. "We also take into account guidelines, conclusions and agreements in the framework of the European Council, the guidelines of the European Commission relating to both secondary migration as well as preventing the choice of the state in which international protection is sought (i.e. asylum shopping).”
 
All these activities are carried out professionally and legally by the Slovenian police, subject to great pressure and a significantly increased number of illegal crossings at the border between the Republic of Slovenia and the Republic of Croatia. "We must also take into account the fact that the complexity of the work at the border is extremely high, that the conditions of work at the border are very difficult and demanding, that the situation we face with increased migrations has gone on for almost three years and that the Slovenian police is the key and, in fact, the only guardian of our state border, which is at the same time the external Schengen border, which is why the Police have even greater responsibility. This also guarantees the safety of the inhabitants of the Republic of Slovenia, citizens and all others who are in Slovenia, and also contributes to the safety of the EU."

 

In carrying out its procedures, the Slovenian police fully respect the rights of foreigners, including the right to international protection, since the lawfulness of work and human rights are an absolute starting point and foundation for the work of the Slovenian police. "In the last month and a half, we have received some concrete information that, to some people, these rights were violated. These are mostly general findings, but there were also some factual findings. According to current findings, when all activities have not yet been completed, it shows that some of these persons, who are referred to as persons who were not given access to international protection, were not in the Republic of Slovenia at all. Of course, we will determine all the circumstances and, on the basis of this, will continue to take further action." The General Police Directorate has so far not detected any irregularities when performing field monitoring and surveillance of the work of police officers, nor were they notified from local or regional levels about it. 

 

The Slovenian police regularly cooperate with non-governmental organisations, which indirectly and directly monitor its work with foreigners. Police stations receive regular monitoring of foreigner procedures and access to the asylum procedure by the UNHCR. The last visit to the police units (Brnik, Koper, Ilirska Bistrica) was held on 18 and 19 June 2018, and in February this year also in Črnomelj and Metlika, whereby the UNHCR did not submit any special recommendations.

 

In any case, it is not true that in Slovenia it is not possible to apply for international protection. This is also evidenced by data, that in the first half of July 159 applications for international protection were received. 

 

A foreigner who gives an intention to submit an application for international protection is placed in the reception rooms of the asylum home until his/her application is accepted. When accommodated in the reception rooms of an asylum home, the foreigner is informed, in an understandable language, of their rights and obligations, including information on the consequences of the arbitrary departure of the reception rooms. We note that even before applying for international protection, a large number of foreigners arbitrarily leave the reception areas of the asylum home, so they also do not submit an application. Persons who in this way waive their intention to submit an application for international protection shall be treated in accordance with the Aliens Act and shall be returned in accordance with the applicable agreements on extradition and takeover of persons whose entry or residence is illegal. This further indicates the abuse of the international protection institute.

 

Both reports cite translation problems, especially in the police procedure. In the Ministry of the Interior, we are aware of this problem, especially when talking about certain specific languages. That is why we have published several calls and invitations to apply for those who master these languages (the last call was on 10 May this year). "In short, this is a problem; we are aware of this, therefore, within our possibilities, we follow the required standards in this area to the maximum."

 

In both reports, two cases of returning unaccompanied minors were cited. "I must point out here that both the Ministry of the Interior and the Police are aware that this is the most sensitive group of people that is illegally coming to our border, and that's why we pay special attention to this. The police takes into account all the agreements in this respect, including with the Community of Centres for Social Work, and all procedures involving minors are carried out in cooperation with the Centre for Social Work." For both of the cases in the report, we will try to obtain enough information in conversations with both organisations in order to actually verify these statements in detail.

 

One of the basic tasks of the police is to carry out state border control and prevent illegal migration. This is especially important if we are talking about the external Schengen border. Namely, in this case, we control the border on behalf of all EU Member States. Therefore, return agreements are one of the cornerstones for the effective implementation of these tasks, and they are also set out in the EU acquis. The standards for such agreements are laid down in the EU legal acts. "A bilateral agreement with the Republic of Croatia has also been evaluated in the context of the pre-accession negotiations and the Schengen evaluation, and in this regard, there were no comments or warnings regarding the evaluation that the agreement would be controversial or incompatible with the European legal framework." 

 

Finally, the State Secretary pointed out that non-governmental organisations are an important partner in many projects and programmes they carry out, and at the same time a correction in the attitude of state authorities towards each individual. "The state is responsible for the implementation of the migration policy, for the management of migration, and within this framework everyone must carry out its work in accordance with its mission and in accordance with its powers." He stressed that the Ministry of the Interior and the Police would thoroughly examine both reports.