Under Article 16(1) IPA each unaccompanied child is assigned a legal guardian before the procedure for international protection starts. The only exception are children who are married and older than 15 years.
The legal guardian must accompany the unaccompanied child from the beginning of the application throughout the entire procedure. He or she is responsible for representing the minor in relation to the asylum procedure, health care, education, protection of property rights and rights related to reception. The child can also be assisted by a PIC lawyer, as is the case for any other asylum applicant (see Regular Procedure). In 2021 PIC assisted 148 children in the procedure.
The legal guardian is present during the child’s asylum application and all subsequent personal interviews and can ask additional questions beside those asked by the official and legal representative. The legal guardian also has to consent, together with the applicant, to the age assessment procedure.
Candidates for legal guardians for unaccompanied children are appointed to the list of legal guardians upon applying to the public tender. One cannot be appointed as a legal guardian if they have been deprived of parental rights, if they do not have capacity to contract, if their interests are in conflict with the interests of the child or if, due to their personal characteristics or relationship with the child or his or her parents, it cannot be expected that they will correctly perform their duties as legal guardians. In practice, the fitness of guardians to perform their duties with a view to a positive involvement in the child’s procedure and care has raised questions in some cases. In one case, the social services removed a legal guardian from the list. In 2020 the UOIM sent negative reports about three legal guardians to social services. The social services initiated the procedure of objection to the work of the three guardians based on the report regarding their work made by the UOIM. The procedures were completed in 2021 and no legal guardian was suspended from the list.
Before being appointed as legal guardians, candidates also have to attend a special training organised by the Faculty of Social Work, University of Ljubljana, which includes family law, social work, psychology, protection of children’s rights, protection of human rights and asylum law.
The absconding rate of unaccompanied children in Slovenia is very high, which seems to be mostly due to children having family in other Member States or, more generally, Slovenia not being their destination country. The absconding of unaccompanied minors continued to be a significant issue in 2021. Out of 782 unaccompanied minors that lodged the application, 756 absconded before the first instance decision. The absconding rate was therefore 97.8% in 2021. Unaccompanied minors represented 15% of asylum seekers in 2021.
 Article 16(9) IPA.
 Article 16(1) and (3) IPA.
 Article 14 Rules on the procedure for aliens who wish to apply for international protection in the Republic of Slovenia and on the procedure for accepting applications for international protection.
 Article 17(4) IPA.
 Article 18(2) IPA and article 181 Marriage and Family Relations Act, Official Gazette of RS, No. 69/04 and subsequent amendments.
 Article 18(3) IPA.
 Official statistics provided by the Migration Directorate, March 2022.