Legal representation of unaccompanied children


Country Report: Legal representation of unaccompanied children Last updated: 30/11/20


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.[1]

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.[2] The child is also assisted by a PIC lawyer, as is the case for any other asylum applicant (see Regular Procedure: Legal Assistance).

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.[3] The legal guardian also has to consent, together with the applicant, to the age assessment procedure.[4]

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.[5] 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.

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.[6]

The absconding rate of unaccompanied children in 2017 was 49.7% in 2017 and even higher in years before (95.4% in 2014, 81% in 2015 and 93.4% in 2016), which seems to be mostly due to children having family in other Member States or, more generally, Slovenia not being their destination country.

In 2018, unaccompanied children represented 20% of asylum seekers as 556 unaccompanied children applied for international protection. However, 529 unaccompanied children absconded before the decision in their procedure was made, raising the absconding rate to 95.1%. Absconding of unaccompanied minors continued to be a significant issue in 2019 with 668 unaccompanied minors lodging an asylum application out of which 656 absconded before the decision was made, raising the absconding rate to 98%.[7]

[1] Article 16(9) IPA.

[2] Article 16(1) and (3) IPA.

[3] 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.

[4]  Article 17(4) IPA.

[5] Article 18(2) IPA and article 181 Marriage and Family Relations Act, Official Gazette of RS, No. 69/04 and subsequent amendments.

[6] Article 18(3) IPA.

[7] Official statistics provided by the Migration Office, February 2020.


Table of contents

  • Statistics
  • Overview of the legal framework
  • Overview of the main changes since the first report
  • Asylum Procedure
  • Reception Conditions
  • Detention of Asylum Seekers
  • Content of International Protection
  • ANNEX I – Transposition of the CEAS in national legislation