STA, 15 January 2020 - A group of Eritrean citizens whose asylum applications have been rejected staged a protest in Ljubljana on Wednesday to point to what they believe is systematic rejection of Eritreans by state authorities, whose decisions suggest that Eritrea is a safe country while it is actually among the most repressive regimes in the world.
The protest by the Eritrean Community of Slovenia and its supporters in front of the asylum centre in Ljubljana comes after the Interior Ministry rejected international protection applications by five Eritreans in late December.
According to the protesters, the negative decisions say that Eritrea is a safe country, which contradicts the fact that Slovenia had until recently been granting international protection to Eritrean citizens as part of the EU relocation scheme.
There must have been a turnaround, which is believed to be politically motivated, said the protesters, adding that the decisions by the Interior Ministry were "unprofessional and inconsistent".
They read a statement in which they called on the Slovenian government to review the decisions and create a policy on Eritrea which would be in line with international standards of human rights protection.
The protesters urged a faster and fair decision-making procedure, noting that Eritrea was the worst dictatorship in the world, where citizens were forced to perform military service for life, which meant slave labour without payment, or death.
Eritreans are thus considered the group who gets international protection in the EU with the greatest certainty. This was so in Slovenia until recently, and it is now the first country in the EU which follows the interpretation that Eritrea is a safe country, they added.
Slovenian asylum activist Miha Blažič told the press that the Interior Ministry had no plan for what to do with Eritreans who drop out of asylum procedure. He believes that rejections are a political decision aimed at discouraging Eritreans from asking for asylum and forcing them to leave the country.
The protesters noted that the ministry had stated that the applicants could have asked for asylum in Sudan, which they believe is not a safe country.
"The ministry asks us what will happen to us if we go back to Eritrea: we don't know, maybe they will kill us, or detain us. Eritrea has no constitution or courts, power is in the hands of the police and dictatorship. We are slaves to the regime," the statement reads.
The ministry rejected the allegations about unprofessional and politically motivated decisions, adding that all applications were treated individually and that all personal circumstances of every applicant, including Eritreans, were considered.