Foreigners can express their intention to apply for asylum before any state or local authority, which has the duty to inform the police. From the moment someone has expressed an intention to apply for international protection, he or she cannot be deported from the country in accordance with the IPA.
According to Article 35 IPA, an individual who has entered Slovenia illegally must express his or her intention to apply for international protection within the shortest time possible. Failure to do so is one of the grounds that can lead to a rejection of the asylum application as manifestly unfounded in the Accelerated Procedure. Whether the individual applied in the shortest time possible must be decided based on the individual case. The application cannot be considered as manifestly unfounded solely on this ground. Individuals who express an intention to apply for international protection in due time are exempt from any penalties regarding illegal entry.
The “preliminary procedure”
The Police conduct the so-called “preliminary procedure” in which they establish the identity and travel route of the individual and complete the registration form. During the procedure they also take a short statement regarding the reasons for applying for international protection. The police documentation is part of the asylum procedure, and statements made during the preliminary procedure are used in practice to identify inconsistencies between the applicant’s statements, and form part of the credibility assessment of the applicant. This is problematic, since in practice individuals in the police procedure often do not have a translator, and the procedures are not conducted individually, meaning that individuals do not have the opportunity to make individual statements at this stage.
In accordance with the IPA, each person in the process must be provided with interpretation and translation in a language that the person understands. This is not necessarily the individual’s mother tongue, and it is up to the police to judge whether an individual understands the language. Interpreters for some languages are not available in Slovenia, or may not be available at the given time, or the provided interpretation is of poor quality, which may lead to problems with accessing the asylum procedure. Interpreters are selected based on a public call. During the selection, interpreters are not subject to a test to determine their level of knowledge of the Slovenian language or the language they interpret. The decisive factor in the public call is the price of the interpreter’s services. Those with the lowest prices are prioritised on the list of interpreters that the police can use in the procedures. In practice, the police also sign separate contracts with interpreters who do not have any proof of obtaining formal education in their countries of origin.
Proper interpretation is therefore one of the main systemic challenges individuals face in the preliminary procedure. The statements taken in the preliminary procedure are often not in accordance with the statements made by individuals later in the process, while lodging the application. Individuals often claim that the statements in the preliminary procedure were not read to them or were not correctly translated. Inconsistencies between the statements made during the preliminary procedure and those made while lodging the applications also form part of the credibility assessment of the asylum seeker. Since there is no systematic monitoring of the conduct of police procedures and the work of interpreters, recording should be introduced in the procedure to allow for comprehensive supervision. In this way, it would be possible to quickly dispel any potential doubts concerning the conduct of the procedure, while making it easier to detect any possible violations of standards.
These findings were reiterated by the Ombudsman in visits carried out in 2020. The Ombudsman detected irregularities in procedures with foreigners, including lack of:
- proper documentation of the police procedure;
- providing information regarding asylum;
- procedural guarantees for unaccompanied minors;
- individually conducted procedures.
During its visits, the Ombudsman detected that the police procedure was not documented in a manner that could remove all doubt about whether an individual expressed the intention to apply for international protection. The Ombudsman also noted that it was not evident from the documentation whether, and in what form, the police informed migrants about their right to asylum. The Ombudsman also detected procedures for unaccompanied minors in which social services were not notified about the procedure, and in which procedural guarantees for minors were not respected, which prevented minors from accessing the asylum procedure. Access to the asylum procedure continued to be one of the main issues in 2020 (See: Access to the territory and push backs).
Once the preliminary procedure is concluded by the police, the individual is transferred to the Asylum Home in Ljubljana. The applicant does not receive a document from the police certifying his or her intention to seek asylum at that stage.
Lodging of the application
There is no time limit prescribed for the authorities between the expression of intention to apply for asylum and the lodging of the application. In the past, this rarely took longer than a couple of days, but since the last quarter of 2017 the wait for registration of the application has usually taken longer, up to one week. This trend continued in 2018. Due to the increase of asylum seekers in 2018, the waiting period for registration was still up to one week and in rare cases exceeded 10 days. The trend continued in 2019 with asylum seekers waiting up to 15 days to lodge their application. In 2020 the waiting period grew again due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In April 2020, asylum procedures were suspended, however some unaccompanied minors were able to lodge the application due to their vulnerability. Asylum seekers therefore had to wait until the procedures resumed at the start of May 2020. During April, they were de facto detained (see Detention: General). Due to these delays and the increase of backlog of applications, most asylum seekers could not lodge their applications shortly after the procedure resumed and had to wait until the end of May.
After the preliminary procedure individuals who express their intention to apply for international protection are brought to the Asylum Home or its branch facility in Logatec. Before lodging their application, asylum seekers, including unaccompanied children, are de facto detained. In May 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, asylum seekers were subjected to a 14-day quarantine period before they could lodge an application. As the procedures were suspended in April 2020, individuals were waiting up to 2 months to lodge their applications in May 2020. The quarantine period was later reduced to 10 days. In practice, asylum seekers were detained for up to 20 days while waiting to lodge their application in 2020. Because they are considered to be asylum seekers after they lodge the application, they are not given any document that would allow them to move freely within the territory. They must sign a statement declaring that they agree to be processed as foreigners in the case that they leave the premises of the Asylum Home before they lodge the application, meaning they can subsequently be detained in the Aliens Centre and processed in the return procedure based on the bilateral readmission agreements or the Aliens Act. They are not issued with a detention order in respect of their detention in the Asylum Home and there is no legal basis for their detention in the IPA.
Prior to lodging the application, the personnel at the Asylum Home conduct a medical examination and take a photograph and fingerprints which are then run through the Eurodac database. Afterwards, they are shown a video presentation on the asylum procedure in Slovenia. The video contains the procedural steps and the obligations of asylum seekers in the procedure. It does not contain any explanation of the reasons for asylum and is not adjusted for unaccompanied minors. The application is then lodged at the Migration directorate. However, the officials who conduct the lodging of the application are not the same as those who take the final decision on the application. In the process of lodging the application, the individual is asked to state their personal information and describe the journey from their country of origin to their arrival in Slovenia. They also give a brief statement about their reasons for applying for international protection.
If the person expresses their intention to apply for international protection at the border, at an airport or at a port, the law provides that the competent authority must lodge the application and take a decision in the shortest possible time (after the preliminary procedure) which must not exceed 14 days. In practice, due to a lack of infrastructure, this procedure at the border, airport and port is not used. Applicants who submit their application at the border, at an airport or at a port are subject to the regular procedure.
 Article 36(1) IPA.
 Article 52, seventh indent IPA.
 See for example: Administrative Court Decision, I U 1894/2011, 17 November 2011.
 Article 35 IPA.
 Articles 42(1)-(2) IPA.
 Ombudsman, Poročilo Varuha človekovih pravic RS o izvajanju nalog državnega preventivnega mehanizma po Opcijskem protokolu h Konvenciji OZN proti mučenju in drugim krutim, nečloveškim ali poniževalnim kaznim ali ravnanju za leto 2019, available at: https://bit.ly/3c9H26y, Ombudsman, Končno poročilo o obravnavi policijskih postopkov s tujci na območju Policijske postaje Ilirska Bistrica 19. 7. 2019, available in Slovenian language at: https://bit.ly/3r3nG7j.
 Articles 4 and 6(1) IPA.
 Articles 42(4)-(5) IPA.
 Article 43(1) IPA.