Conditions in detention facilities

Slovenia

Country Report: Conditions in detention facilities Last updated: 31/03/21

Author

The Aliens Centre is under the authority of the Police while the Asylum Home is under the authority of UOIM. Asylum seekers who are detained in the Asylum Home can move freely on the premises of the Asylum Home and have the same rights as other asylum seekers, except for leaving the premises.

Overall conditions

Both facilities are subject to unannounced visits by the National Preventive Mechanism instituted under the Optional Protocol to the United Nations Convention against Torture and implemented by the Office of the Ombudsman in cooperation with representatives of the civil society.[1]

The Aliens Centre is visited by the Ombudsman around once per year. The centre is also occasionally visited by international monitoring bodies, including the Council of Europe Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) which last visited between 28 March and 4 April 2017.[2] In 2019, the Aliens Centre was renovating reception facilities of the centre. During the Ombudsman’s visit no major irregularities regarding overall conditions were detected.[3]

In 2020, detention conditions deteriorated due to the large number of detained persons. Due to the lack of reception capacity, individuals were also accommodated outside the Aliens Centre in containers. The deteriorating conditions encouraged the Slovenian Ombudsman to visit the Aliens Centre twice in 2020. Based on the visit the Ombudsman concluded that the individuals were not able to leave the area where the containers were located and did not have the possibility to enjoy outdoor activities. The Ombudsman also advised that service dogs should not be used in the presence of migrants. The Ombudsman also remarked that the time limit regarding the lodging the application should be respected. In practice, those who expressed their intention to lodge their application were able to lodge the application a few weeks later. The Ombudsman concluded that the reception conditions outside the Aliens Centre where asylum seekers were detained in containers were not in accordance with the Reception Directive.[4]

Many smaller issues detected through monitoring activities have been remedied and improved over the years. Allegations of mistreatment or other inappropriate conduct of the Police and other staff are very rare. Nevertheless, incidents such as hunger strikes and self-harm do occur, though they seem to be a reaction to detention itself, as well as dissatisfaction with the asylum or return procedure, and not poor conditions in the centre. In 2020, due to poor conditions in the centre, hunger strikes and protests were often organised by the detainees. The Aliens Centre was overcrowded and individuals were accommodated in containers. They could not leave the premises of the building where the containers were located even for a daily open-air walk. They did not have access to internet. The containers did not allow the individuals the necessary privacy. They were also not heated, and therefore inappropriate for cold weather. Individuals often did not have the appropriate clothes (shoes, warm clothes etc). Regarding the conditions in this part of the Aliens Centre, the Administrative Court ruled that they violate Art. 4 of the Charter, since detained asylum seekers are not provided with one-hour open air activities per day.[5]  Videos of protests and the conditions in the centre had broad media coverage and prompted civil society to organise protests before the Aliens Centre to oppose mass detention, and the violation of human rights at the border and during detention.[6] Although detention continued, the widespread media coverage prompted members of the Parliament’s Commission for Petitions, Human Rights and Equal Opportunities and the Ombudsman to visit the Aliens Centre in order to monitor the conditions in the Centre.

Activities

Asylum seekers detained in the Asylum Home have the same rights as other accommodated asylum seekers and can therefore take part in all activities organised in the Asylum Home. In practice, they can also attend activities outside the Asylum Home provided that an official escorts them.

In the Aliens Centre, detainees can access the recreational facilities for 2 hours a day. The recreational facilities are considered inadequate and one of the main shortcomings in terms of conditions in the centre is that outdoor exercise is only available in a small closed-off courtyard of the centre. The centre also holds a bigger and better-equipped playground with a view over the surrounding nature, yet detainees are usually not allowed access as constant supervision would be required to prevent escapes. Apart from table tennis in the main accommodation area, other options for indoor exercise are not provided.

The centre has a small library, several television sets and an internet room which is available for a limited amount of time in accordance with a weekly schedule.

The Aliens Centre employs five social workers who are available to detainees every day from morning to evening and also organise various activities such as language courses, trainings on hygiene and disease prevention and sport activities. In 2019, social workers organised 38 English language courses, nine creative workshops, board games, computer courses, Slovenian language courses, health courses and six educational workshops on different topics. The Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) Slovenia visits the centre around once a week to carry out recreational and psycho-social activities.

In 2020 the Aliens Centre employed two additional social workers. Social workers focus on providing psycho-social support and information regarding the rules of living in the Aliens Centre and other relevant information from the Foreigners Act. Due to COVID-19, fewer activities were organized in the centre and the social workers instead focused on individual work. Nonetheless sport activities, basic training and creative workshops were organized and conducted by the social workers. Activities such as English language courses, computer courses, Slovenian language courses, workshops and religious activities were conducted in accordance with the preventive measures. The Jesuit Refugee Service Slovenia suspended their visits during the pandemic.

Health care and special needs in detention

The health care of the detainees is the same as for other asylum seekers. They have access to health care services provided in the Asylum Home or the Aliens Centre and are entitled to urgent medical services. Psychological counselling is also provided to them under the same conditions as other asylum seekers. A psychiatrist, the same person working in the Asylum Home, visits the Aliens Centre when required.

Vulnerable persons can be detained both in the Aliens Centre and in the Asylum Home. Asylum seekers are detained in separate units of the Aliens Centre according to their personal circumstances i.e. families, unaccompanied children and other vulnerable persons. Vulnerability is identified by the centre staff upon arrival.

In 2020, social workers focused on individual counselling and providing information on COVID-19. Social workers provided information on preventive measures as part of the accommodation process. Information on preventive measures was also translated into eight languages (i.e. Farsi, English, Albanian, Arabic, Bengali, Pashtu, Urdu and Turkish). Social workers informed individuals about all COVID-19 related measures.

 

 

[1] For reports of monitoring visits, see Ombudsman, Varuh kot Državni preventivni mehanizem, available in Slovenian at: http://bit.ly/2G2n8Z8.

[2]Council of Europe, ‘Council of Europe anti-torture Committee visits Slovenia’, 6 April 2017, available at: http://bit.ly/2DniGSM.

[3]  Ombudsman, Državni preventivni mehanizem, available in Slovenian at: https://bit.ly/2wj4nAk.

[4] Ombudsman, Poročilo Varuha o nameščanju pridržanih oseb v Centru za tujce v Postojni, available in Slovene at: https://bit.ly/3tniqgc.

[5] Administrative Court decision, I U 1308/2020, 18 September 2020.

[6]  See for example: https://bit.ly/3trv9hY, https://bit.ly/3vBSHm3, https://bit.ly/3vy0voR.

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