Conditions in detention facilities

Slovenia

Country Report: Conditions in detention facilities Last updated: 25/05/22

Author

The Foreigners 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 Foreigners 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 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 Foreigners Centre in containers. The deteriorating conditions encouraged the Slovenian Ombudsman to visit the Foreigners 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 Foreigners Centre where asylum seekers were detained in containers were not in accordance with the Reception Directive.[3] In 2021 the Ombudsman finished the investigation into the claims of police violence of two foreigners made in 2020. Regarding solitary confinement, the Ombudsman found that severe procedural violations were made. The Ombudsman also concluded that documentation regarding the use of coercive means was not sufficient in order for a comprehensive assessment to be made as to whether the use was proportionate.[4]

The Ombudsman did not conduct a visit in 2021.

Many smaller issues detected through monitoring activities have been remedied and improved over the years. In 2021, allegations of mistreatment and other inappropriate conduct of the Police and staff were made by asylum seekers and foreigners. Detainees reported that they were beaten and abused by the staff, and that they were put in solitary confinement for longer periods of time. Cases of self-harm, suicide attempts and hunger strikes were reported.[5]

 

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 Foreigners 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 in accordance with a weekly schedule.

The Foreigners Centre employs  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 2020 the Foreigners Centre employed two additional social workers. Social workers focus on providing psycho-social support and information regarding the rules of living in the Foreigners 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 was able to carry out their visits if the government measures for preventing the spread of the pandemic allowed it.[6]

 

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 Foreigners 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 Foreigners Centre when required.

Vulnerable persons can be detained both in the Foreigners Centre and in the Asylum Home. Asylum seekers are detained in separate units of the Foreigners 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 2021, 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, Poročilo Varuha o nameščanju pridržanih oseb v Centru za tujce v Postojni, available in Slovene at: https://bit.ly/3tniqgc.

[4] Ombudsman: Končno poročilo o obravnavi odreditve bivanja pod strožjim policijskim nadzorom v posebj varovani sobi in uporaba prisilnih sredstev v Centru za tujce v Postojni, no. 8.6-1/2021-21-KO, from 28.6.2021.

[5] N1, “Center za zastraševanje in psihični zlom”, 11. 12. 2021, available in Slovene at: https://bit.ly/38wyAiM.

[6] Official statistics provided by the Police, February 2022.

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