General

Slovenia

Country Report: General Last updated: 31/03/21

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The decision on detention of asylum applicants is taken by the Migration directorate. Asylum seekers can be detained in the Aliens Centre or in the Asylum Home.

Most asylum seekers are generally not formally detained.

Detention of asylum seekers in 2017-2020
  2017 2018 2019 2020
Aliens Centre 47 123 22 217
Asylum Home 1 0 1 0

The majority of asylum seekers were detained in the first half of 2018 due to the large increase of asylum seekers. The detained asylum seekers were mostly from Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia. In 2019, only 22 asylum seekers were detained in the Aliens Centre and no one was detained in the Asylum Home. The main category of asylum applicants who were detained were persons in the Dublin procedures.

In March 2019, the Supreme Court ruled, in accordance with the CJEU judgment C-538/15, Al Chodor, that the provisions of the IPA regarding the detention are not in accordance with the Dublin Regulation, since the IPA does not contain the definition of the “risk of absconding” and the objective criteria needed to establish the risk of absconding in an individual case.[1] The Supreme Court therefore ruled that detention in the Dublin procedure is not lawful since the IPA does not contain the proper legal ground for detention. Since the provisions of the IPA regarding detention have not been amended, asylum seekers in Slovenia cannot be detained in the Dublin procedure or on any other ground that requires the risk of absconding to be is established. Following the judgment of the Supreme Court, asylum seekers in the Dublin procedure were, therefore, not detained in Slovenia pending their Dublin procedure. The only possible ground for detention in Slovenia until the appropriate amendments to the IPA will be made is in order to prevent security threats to the country or to the constitutional order of the Republic of Slovenia or if it is necessary to protect personal safety, property and other grounds related to public safety.

Nonetheless, the practice in 2020 changed and the authorities began detaining individuals on other grounds. In 2020, 217 individuals were detained, mostly from Pakistan, Morocco and Afghanistan.[2] Individuals who were apprehended by the police and could not be returned to Croatia based on the readmission agreement were taken to the Aliens Centre where they expressed their intent to apply for international protection. They lodged their applications in the Aliens Centre after which they were detained on the premises by the Migration Directorate. This practice was new, and not in accordance with the International Protection Act, which stipulates that the individual has to be taken to the Asylum Home after the preliminary procedure.[3]

In the past, individuals who expressed their intent to apply for international protection would be taken from the Aliens Centre to the Asylum Home where they would lodge the application. The new practice meant that reasons for detention were not established based on the individual circumstances of each case, but that individuals were detained (based on the Aliens Act) before lodging the application. Many of the detained asylum seekers claimed that they expressed their intent to lodge the application but were unable to access the asylum procedure. Due to a large number of detainees and the COVID-19 pandemic, the reception conditions in the Aliens Centre worsened. Individuals, including asylum seekers were accommodated outside of the Aliens Centre in containers. Containers were located in the abandoned building on the premises of the Aliens Centre. The entrance of the building was closed and guarded by 2 police officers by day. Detained asylum seekers also had trouble in obtaining legal help and representation from refugee counsellors. Although 217 detention orders were issued, only 206 appeals against the detention orders were made.[4]

Apart from asylum applicants, the Aliens Centre also detains aliens in return procedures, which is the main purpose of the institution. In 2017, a total of 236 persons were detained in the centre pending return procedures. Seven persons in return procedures were in the centre on 31 December 2017. By the end of 2018, 13 persons were in the Aliens Centre out of which eight were in the return procedure. In 2019, 1,422 foreigners were detained in the Aliens Centre including 31 minors and 287 unaccompanied minors. According to the official statistics, the top five nationalities of the detained foreigners were Pakistani, Turkish, Afghani, Syrian and Bengali. At the end of the year, 10 people were detained in the Aliens Centre.[5] In 2020, the number of detained aliens was much higher, reaching 2,266 detainees throughout the year. The highest number of detainees were nationals of Pakistan, Afghanistan, Morocco, Bangladesh, Turkey and Iraq. At the end of the year, 26 individuals were detained in the Aliens Centre.[6]

A regime of de facto detention is applied to all newly arrived asylum seekers. Upon arrival in the Asylum Home, applicants are held in the reception area of the building without free access to its other parts. The Migration directorate began a practice of locking up this area due to a high number of people absconding from the procedure prior to lodging applications and giving fingerprints for Eurodac. Until 2017, people were detained for short periods, rarely exceeding one day. However, due to organisational difficulties such as the unavailability of interpreters and doctors, there have been cases of persons, including families and unaccompanied children, held in the reception area for five-six days on average. The trend continued throughout 2018 and 2019 due to a large number of arrivals. In 2020, individuals waited up to 20 days to lodge the application partly due to the obligatory quarantine. During this period, people were also accommodated in the room for common activities and in the reception centre in Logatec. People were de facto detained in these conditions for up to 20 days when they were waiting to lodge their application. The rooms in the pre-reception areas were often overcrowded and did not guarantee any privacy to the individuals.

Due to the deterioration of conditions in 2018, PIC sent a letter containing an analysis of the practice to UOIM and met with the representatives of the Ministry of the Interior. The head of the Ombudsman’s National Preventive Mechanism was also informed about the situation and performed an unannounced visit to the Asylum Home. PIC also filed a lawsuit for damages for unlawful deprivation of liberty however all the applicants later absconded. No systemic solutions were put in place and people are still de facto detained before lodging their applications.

Detention itself does not have an impact on the overall quality of the asylum procedure. According to Article 48 IPA, applications of the detained asylum seekers should be prioritised, yet it is not clear to what degree this provision is respected in practice and statistics on the prioritised procedures are not collected by the Migration directorate. In 2020, detained asylum seekers were processed in the accelerated procedure if possible in order to facilitate their return (see Accelerated procedure). There were also cases of individuals who were returned to Croatia based on the readmission agreement, and not to their countries of origin, after their asylum procedure was finished. They were later removed from Croatia to Bosnia.

In 2019, 527 individuals expressed their intention to apply for international protection in the Aliens Centre.[7] In 2020, 938 individuals expressed their intention to apply for asylum in the Aliens Centre.[8]

[1] Supreme Court Decision, X Ips 1/2019 from 13 March 2019, available at: https://bit.ly/2TSXCNr.

[2] Official statistics provided by the Migration directorate, January 2021.

[3] 42(3) IPA.

[4] Official statistics provided by the Migration directorate, January 2021.

[5] Official statistics provided by the Police, January 2020.

[6] Official statistics provided by the Migration directorate, January 2021.

[7] Official statistics provided by the Police, January 2020.

[8] Official statistics provided by the Migration Office, January 2021.

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