Interior Minister: Criticism of Police Treatment of Migrants Unwarranted

By , 28 Aug 2018, 12:59 PM Politics
Vesna Györkös Žnidar Vesna Györkös Žnidar

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STA, 28 August 2018 - Outgoing Interior Minister Vesna Györkös Žnidar has denied Slovenia is systematically sending migrants back to the countries from which they enter Slovenia in an interview with the newspaper Večer, and said they were not denied access to international protection. 

She said all checks carried out so far had found no irregularities to which the Human Rights Ombudsman had pointed to in a report issued last week.

The report criticised the police for not paying enough attention to each migrant's personal circumstances and not adequately explaining the reasons for denying entry.

"I can assure you with all my authority that this criticism is unwarranted," the minister told Večer.

In processing migrants, the Interior Ministry and police act responsibly and legally, taking into account European and national legislation, as well as all decisions and guidelines by the Council of the EU and European Commission, according to the minister.

She also stressed that just like other countries, "Slovenia is faced with a very obvious abuse of asylum procedures", and urged debate on the issue.

Under international and European law, an asylum-seeker is not allowed to choose a country in which they would ask for international protection, but should do so in the first safe or first EU country they enter, she explained.

However, "a person asking for international protection in Slovenia has previously crossed Greece, Macedonia, Serbia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, perhaps Montenegro and then Croatia. These are orderly and safe countries, some of them even EU candidates".

Györkös Žnidar regrets that Slovenia has failed to have serious debate on migrations during the outgoing government's four-year term.

She also regrets changes to the international protection law have not been passed to introduce the concept of a third safe country, which could be used for those who come from a safe EU country. "I'm convinced that we are now more vulnerable."

The outgoing minister is also worried that the last draft of the coalition agreement does not contain a pledge to pass legislation to prevent asylum procedure abuse.

She believes EU countries should reach a political agreement to control European borders and asylum policy, saying that "NGO which are bringing people [to Europe] in a planned manner cannot dictate the EU's migration policy".

Györkös Žnidar also told Večer she had decided not to stand in the June election because she could not promote the Modern Centre Party's platform, which reduces the importance of security on the national border.

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