Special reception needs of vulnerable groups

Slovenia

Country Report: Special reception needs of vulnerable groups Last updated: 25/05/22

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Categories of people considered to be vulnerable are similar to those listed in Article 21 of the recast Reception Conditions Directive, the only difference being that the definition in Article 2 (22) IPA does not explicitly include persons with serious illness, although the definition is not exhaustive.

According to Article 14(1) IPA material reception conditions, health services, psychological counselling and overall treatment needs to be adapted for applicants with special needs regarding their reception.

There is no special mechanism laid down in the law or in practice to identify vulnerable persons for the purpose of addressing their specific reception needs. Their vulnerability can be partially examined during the medical examination – visible physical characteristics due to which the individual is considered to be vulnerable – during which the vulnerability assessment is performed according to Article 13(1) IPA. The individual’s vulnerability can also be assessed during the lodging of the application. The Migration Directorate fills out a form for every asylum seeker upon lodging the application, and lists the identified vulnerabilities of the asylum seeker. The form is then given to the UOIM when the applicant is accommodated. The vulnerability of an applicant can also be assessed during the personal interview.

Special information sessions following the asylum application are conducted with unaccompanied children and other potential victims of trafficking. The project was implemented by the Institute for African Studies and the staff of UOIM. However in 2021 only 292 sessions were conducted although 782 unaccompanied minors lodged the application for international protection.[1]

When victims or potential victims of sexual or gender-based violence are identified, they are processed in the system of Standard Operating Procedures. The system is based on the protocol that establishes a mechanism for prevention, and action in cases where asylum seekers or beneficiaries of international protection are identified as victims or potential victims of sexual or gender-based violence.

The mechanism complements the existing national mechanism, and it aims to establish a fast and coordinated approach for offering support to victims. When a potential victim is identified, the authority or the NGO that identified a potential victim is obliged to report it and call for an immediate activation of the Standard Operating Procedures. A meeting of relevant actors is conducted and a plan of support is drafted based on the individual needs of the victim. Additional support can be offered to the victim regarding reception, health care, mental health care, international protection procedure or any other identified needs.[2]

In 2020, the expert group convened 15 times in order to discuss individual cases and make an additional assistance plan. [3] This is related to the protocol on sexual and gender-based violence signed by Slovenia in 2020. [4]

Special needs regarding reception conditions can also be identified at a later stage according to Article 13(2) IPA. Unfortunately, there is no monitoring mechanism in place regarding the measures for addressing the special needs in reception.

As mentioned in Health Care, individuals who are identified as vulnerable by a special multidisciplinary committee can receive additional health services.[5] They can also be accommodated in special facilities such as medical facilities or nursing homes if appropriate accommodation for them cannot be provided in the Asylum Home.[6] In practice, this is arranged on a case by case basis and depends on the availability of such facilities.

Vulnerable groups are accommodated according to the category of vulnerability they belong to. In 2021, 2688 asylum seekers were recognised as vulnerable, out of which 1906 were minors and 782 were unaccompanied minors.[7]

 

Reception of families

Families are accommodated in the  family section of the Asylum Home in Ljubljana. Nuclear families are accommodated together during the asylum procedure while extended family members, mainly single men, can be accommodated in a separate unit of the Asylum Home or in a different accommodation centre.

 

Reception of unaccompanied children

Before 2016, unaccompanied children were accommodated in a special section of the Asylum Home in Ljubljana. However, due to shortcomings in protection and care that could be provided under that arrangement, the government instituted a pilot project which took place between August 2016 and August 2017, in the framework of which unaccompanied children were accommodated in Student Dormitories Postojna and Nova Gorica. This solution provided better results, including in terms of separation from adult asylum applicants, more available assistance by specialised staff and better integration in the local environment.

After the conclusion of the pilot project, accommodation in Nova Gorica was terminated and unaccompanied children were moved to Student Dormitory Postojna. By the end of 2018, the UOIM decided to extend the pilot project in the Student Dormitory Postojna for one more year.

Unaccompanied children can be accommodated in a special section of the Asylum Home in Ljubljana or in the Student Dormitory in Postojna. Based on the agreement with the Student Dormitory Postojna, up to 19 unaccompanied children can be accommodated in the dormitory.

Since the number of unaccompanied children is higher than the reception capacity of the Student Dormitory, in practice only unaccompanied children under 16 are accommodated in Postojna while the rest are accommodated in the Asylum Home. Due to the shortcomings in protection and care, the Asylum Home is not a suitable accommodation for unaccompanied children (see Conditions in Reception Facilities). Due to a large number of unaccompanied minors that lodged the application in 2021, older unaccompanied minors were accommodated in the Asylum Home during the year. At the end of the year 3 unaccompanied minors were accommodated in the Asylum Home and 14 were in Student Dormitory Postojna.[8]

Various stakeholders agree that Slovenia should strengthen the individual approach towards​ accommodation and care ​ for unaccompanied children and establish support measures for transition to adulthood. A systemic solution for accommodation and care of unaccompanied children was still not established in 2021. ​

One identified problem is that while an age assessment procedure is set out in law (see Identification), it is not carried out in practice, thereby raising the risk of adults falsely claiming to be children being accommodated together with actual children.[9]

As described in Legal Representation of Unaccompanied Children, appointed legal guardians assist unaccompanied children with access to health care, education and reception, among other tasks.

 

 

 

[1] Official statistics provided by UOIM, March 2022.

[2] UOIM: Deležniki podpisali nov protokol o preprečevanju in ukrepanju v primerih spolnega nasilja ter nasilja na podalgi spola, 22. 9. 2020, available in slovene at: https://bit.ly/39AXpdb.

[3] Official statistics provided by the UOIM, March 2022.

[4] EASO Asylum Report 2021, available at: https://bit.ly/3L653cM, 263.

[5] Article 86(2) IPA.

[6] Article 83(2) IPA.

[7] Official statistics provided by UOIM, March 2022.

[8] Official statistics provided by UOIM, March 2022.

[9] Official statistics provided by UOIM, January 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