Govt. Moves Against Paramilitary Groups Patrolling the Border

By , 27 Nov 2019, 09:13 AM Politics
Members of the Štajerska Guard last year Members of the Štajerska Guard last year Slovenka TV Facebook

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STA, 26 November 2019 - The government adopted legislative amendments on Tuesday designed to crack-down on the activity of self-styled village guards and militias patrolling the border with the intention to stop illegal migrants.

The government proposes for parliament to pass amendments to the protection of public order act and to the state border control act as a matter of urgency.

The government says securing the border is in the sole jurisdiction of the police, while the so-called guards are trying to interfere in police powers and duties, obstruct police work and are upsetting the public.

The proposed amendments would ban any conduct by an individual or group conducted with the intention of controlling the border in the same or similar way as conducted by police in controlling the border.

Also banned are activities that impede the police in conducting border surveillance.

Violations of the ban carry a fine of at least EUR 1,000 for an individual or at least EUR 1,500 when the act is committed by an individual as part of a group.

The government also proposes banning the carrying, display or use of decorative weapons, imitation weapons, signalling weapons or other objects that look like weapons, in a way as to make it look as if police or army members perform their duties.

The ban would not apply when the objects are used as props by performers at events organised in accordance with the public assembly act.

A breach of this latter ban carries a fine of between 500 and 1,000 euro when committed by an individual or between 1,000 and 2,000 when the individual commits the act as a member of a group.

The government also proposes introducing a new offence for the use of camouflage clothing, uniforms or clothing that looks like police or army uniform, when the person wearing such a piece of clothing appears as if they are performing the duties of police or army personnel.

The use of such clothing as props by performers is again exempt from the ban, which carries fines of between 500 and 1,000 euro when committed by an individual or between 1,000 and 2,000 euro when committed as a member of a group.

The amendments come in the aftermath of increased activity by militias including the Štajerska Guard, whose leader Andrej Šiško was sentenced to eight months in prison earlier this year on the charge that he attempted to subvert the constitutional order.

Presenting the amendments to reporters, Interior Minister Boštjan Poklukar declared "zero tolerance of any initiative by individuals or groups to assume the duties in the jurisdiction of the state".

He expects that the amendments will meet with approval, saying that shortcomings in the valid law caused concern among the public and hindered police work.

Police have been reporting on their findings on militia activity to prosecutors but these have not established any crime in any of the cases. The government is now giving the police the tool to punish the perpetrators, he said.

Poklukar announced that the Interior Ministry would also draw up amendments to legislation dealing with associations, and the Justice Ministry proposed amendments to the penal code provisions on impersonating a police or army force member and on taking the law in your hands.

The United Slovenia movement, which is headed by the leader of the Štajerska Guard Šiško, responded to the changes by saying Slovenia was seeing "fascism and unconstitutional actions by an important segment of the very top echelons of the state and the state apparatus"

It argued MPs should do all in their power to "prevent such unacceptable conduct and to restore the rule of law and constitutional order of the Republic of Slovenia".

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