The previous report update was published in May 2022.
- Key asylum statistics: In 2022, the police recorded 32,024 irregular entries. 31,447 persons expressed their intention to lodge the application for international protection. However, only 6,787 applications for international protection were lodged. 203 applicants were granted international protection, including 39 refugee status and 164 applicants granted subsidiary protection. Out of 164 applications granted subsidiary protection, 158 were Ukrainian. With 141 rejections, this makes for a 59% protection rate at first instance. In addition, 4 persons were granted protection by the Administrative court and granted 72 appeals sent back to the first instance authority for a new decision, out of 98 decisions on appeal.
- Access to the procedure: Access to the asylum procedure improved in 2022 because the Croatian authorities refused to accept people onto their territory based on the readmission agreement. Therefore, the percentage of people who were readmitted to Croatia without applying for international protection in Slovenia dropped significantly. Although no longer locked in the facilities asylum seekers continued to be de facto detained before lodging the application throughout the year. In case they left the facilities, they could be detained after lodging the application.
- Constitutional review of law denying access to the asylum procedure: The provisions of the Foreigners act that allow the authorities to deny asylum seekers to lodge the application in case of a complex migration crisis were submitted to review before the Constitutional Court, however no decision was made by the end of the year.
- Length of procedure: The lengthiness of the procedure continued to be one of the biggest shortcomings of the asylum procedure. Ukrainian asylum seekers were prioritised and were granted subsidiary protection in a few months however, the procedure prolonged for other groups of asylum seekers.
- Legal assistance at first instance: Asylum seekers do not receive information on grounds for asylum before lodging the application. During the year the Migration directorate provided legal counselling to vulnerable asylum seekers that was carried out by selected refugee counsellors. However, since the vulnerability assessment is not done only a small amount of people received the help through the programme. In addition, free legal counselling and representation during the first instance procedure was also provided by NGO PIC, however not to all asylum seekers. The Advocate for the Principle of Equality reviewed the provisions of the IPA under which the principle of confidentiality does not apply to refugee counsellors or legal guardians of asylum seekers. In the decision the Advocate noted that the provisions are discriminatory and issued a recommendation that the provisions should be changed. No legislative changes were made by the end of the year.
- Legal assistance at second instance: Access to free legal help and representation before the Administrative Court continued to be a challenge for most asylum seekers. Due to difficulties in accessing the refugee counsellors (unclear information provided by the Migration directorate, language barriers etc.) and short time limits for the judicial review some asylum seekers were unable exercise their right to legal remedies. Regarding the 3-day time limit for judicial review the Administrative Court posed a preliminary question to the CJEU. The court procedures were also prolonged at the second instance due to the backlog of cases. In practice, asylum seekers can wait for more than 2 years to get a decision from the Administrative Court if their application was rejected in a regular procedure. In case of appeal to the Supreme Court the court procedure can last for several years depending on the case.
- Reception capacity: Lack of sufficient accommodation capacity continued to be a shortcoming in 2022. The facilities were often overcrowded due to the large number of arrivals. Upon the arrival of persons fleeing Ukraine the accommodation centre in Logatec was changed into an accommodation centre for TP applicants and holders.
- Reception conditions: The Slovenian Ombudsman visited the Asylum Home and its branch Logatec in 2022 due to reports of overcrowding and bad conditions. Based on the visit the Ombudsman concluded that accommodation conditions in both centres do not reach the minimal standards set out by the EASO/EUAA guidelines. In the report the Ombudsman noted that the situation is especially concerning regarding the right to personal dignity, the right to privacy and the right to personal security. In the opinion of the Ombudsman the conditions to a certain extent contributed to the high absconding rate. Therefore, the conditions also violated the right to asylum enshrined in Article 18 of the Charter. The Ombudsman concluded that the conditions were the consequence of lack of capacity. He recommended that additional capacity be guaranteed together with additional staff.
- Accommodation of unaccompanied minors: A systematic solution for accommodation of unaccompanied minors was not found in 2022. This meant that unaccompanied minors continued to be accommodated in the same facilities as other asylum seekers during the year. They were not properly separated from adult asylum seekers in Logatec or Asylum Home Vič. The pilot project with the Student Dormitory Postojna was prolonged however it can only host up to 22 unaccompanied minors at the time.
- Financial assistance: Since the legislative changes in 2021 asylum seekers cannot receive financial support for moving into a private address.
Detention of asylum seekers
- Detention: Both the Migration directorate and the UOIM detained asylum seekers during the year. Detained asylum seekers organised a hunger strike in the detention centre in Postojna.
- Legal assistance: Detained asylum seekers faced difficulties in accessing the help of refugee counsellors in order to lodge the judicial review before the Administrative Court.
- Alternatives to detention: Alternatives to detention are still not available in Slovenia.
Content of international protection
- Family reunification: Ukrainians are granted subsidiary protection with the validity of one year meaning that they will be able to start the family reunification process after it will be prolonged.
- Integration contract: While all beneficiaries of international protection are entitled to basic rights (health care, access to labour market, education…) they have to sing an integration contract if they want to access the full scope of the rights (accommodation in the integration house, social support for accommodation …). In practice, the majority of beneficiaries sing the integration contract.
- Housing: Due to a small number of beneficiaries of international protection in Slovenia beneficiaries do not report about systematic issues that would prevent them access to their rights. However, beneficiaries often face difficulties when finding accommodation.
The information given hereafter constitute a short summary of the 2022 Report on Temporary Protection, for further information, see Annex on Temporary Protection.
- Key temporary protection statistics: According to the Ministry of Interior, between 24 February 2022 and 31 December 2022, 8,445 persons applied for temporary protection in the Republic of Slovenia. Of those 8,340 were Ukrainian citizens. In the same time period citizens of Ukraine submitted 194 applications for international protection. In 2022, temporary protection was granted altogether to 7,666 persons, out of which 7,588 were citizens of Ukraine, while international protection was granted to 158 citizens of Ukraine. In the same time period 85 applications for temporary protection were rejected.
Temporary protection procedure
- Procedure: Upon entry into the Republic of Slovenia, an applicant completes an application for temporary protection with the Police and presents all the evidence at their disposal which is relevant for the decision on granting temporary protection. The Police then submits the application and supporting documents to the competent authority for processing and deciding on granting temporary protection, which is the administrative unit in the territory where the applicant is staying. Displaced persons making an illegal entry into the Republic of Slovenia and those already present in the Republic of Slovenia need to without delay and within three days at the latest, complete an application for temporary protection and submit it to the local police office or the administrative unit in the area where the person is staying. If in these two cases the application is submitted to the Police, the Police then forward it without delay to the administrative unit where an applicant for temporary protection is staying. Administrative units then process and decide on whether an applicant fulfils the conditions to be granted temporary protection determined.
- Backlog: In the first few months of activating temporary protection there were some backlogs before the administrative units, the reasons for which may have been incomplete applications in some cases, however they can mostly be attributed to administrative units being overloaded with applications that they were not able to process in time. Administrative units are also unequal both in terms of size and workload, which affected as to how long the applicants were waiting to be granted temporary protection, in view of which administrative unit was processing their applications, and consequently to be able to enjoy the rights that are granted under temporary protection such as the right to work, financial assistance etc.
Content of temporary protection
- Rights enjoyed: In case of a positive decision a person receives an identity card, which also serves as a permit for temporary residence in the Republic of Slovenia. By law, persons enjoying temporary protection have the right to: temporary residence in the Republic of Slovenia; accommodation and meals in accommodation centres or financial assistance for private accommodation; health care; work; education; financial assistance; an allowance; family reunification; free legal aid; to be informed of their rights and obligations and to receive support in exercising their legal rights.
- Main issues: In 2022 the biggest issue faced by the persons fleeing Ukraine that applied for temporary protection was the lack of information in relation to the temporary protection procedure and being exposed to risks of exploitation and human trafficking. Other detected issues were in relation to access to health care as persons enjoying temporary protection only have the right to emergency medical care unless they are employed in which case they are included in compulsory health insurance, and in relation to housing and accommodation due to uncertainty in case of private hosting (free of charge) as this was mostly provided for a short period of time and persons had to move to a reception/accommodation centre when the accommodation became unavailable, as well as due to shortage of affordable private accommodations and their temporary nature, meeting the specific needs of vulnerable groups and the risk of exploitation in private accommodation.
 Ombudsman, Končno poročilo z obiska Azilnega doma v Ljubljani, 7.0-2/2022-8-NAB (21. 9.2022).