Bill Passes with Stricter Penalties for Migrant Smugglers, Although Fewer Crossings Detected This Year

By , 17 Jun 2020, 14:30 PM Politics
Bill Passes with Stricter Penalties for Migrant Smugglers, Although Fewer Crossings Detected This Year Slovenska policija Facebook

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STA, 16 June 2020 - The National Assembly passed a bill on Tuesday amending the penal code by imposing harsher penalties for persons organising illegal crossings of the border and for those helping illegal migrants reside in Slovenia. The amendment, proposed by the upper chamber of parliament, was passed in a 48:35 vote.

The bill was backed by the coalition and by the opposition National Party (SNS), while the other deputy groups opposed it, arguing a more comprehensive approach would be needed to tackle illegal migrations.

The initial proposal by the National Council labelled any illegal border crossing a crime. However, the parliamentary Justice Committee then acknowledged the warnings by the parliament's legal service, state prosecution and the government that this would lead to inconsistencies since the law on foreigners defines illegally crossing the border as an offence, not a crime.

The final version of the bill hence raises the prison sentences for smugglers of migrants from a maximum penalty of five years' imprisonment to between three and ten years in prison. Penalties for those helping illegal migrants reside in the country have been also made more severe.

Moreover, persons involved in both crimes who capitalise on their unlawful activities or are part of organised crime will now face three to 15 years in prison, compared to a maximum of eight years in prison as is the case now.

The coalition parties all agreed that the amendment was necessary to boost the deterrence effect and reduce the scope of illegal crossing of the border.

The SNS meanwhile added that the penal code should be further amended by introducing harsher penalties for the relevant accomplices as well.

On the other hand, the rest of the opposition disagreed, with the Marjan Šarec List (LMŠ) saying that the changes should be adopted with more deliberation and in cooperation with experts.

The Social Democrats (SD) believe that the punishments are now extremely disproportionate to other crimes or offences, whereas the Left pointed out that the root cause of the migrations should be addressed. The Alenka Bratušek Party (SAB) meanwhile called for a more comprehensive approach.

Fewer illegal border crossing attempts detected so far this year

STA, 16 June 2020 - Nearly 3,300 people tried to enter Slovenia illegally in the first five months of the year, a drop of more than 25% over the same period last year. However, the dynamic started to pick up in the course of the past month, as the coronavirus pandemic started to ease.

The police detected 3,283 attempts at crossing the border illegally between January and May, and 1,198 expressed the intention to request asylum in Slovenia.

Most of the people apprehended were citizens of Pakistan, Morocco and Afghanistan.

The police said that more illegal crossings had been detected in January than in the same month in 2019, but then the number dropped, also because of the pandemic.

In May, the 883 attempts at illegal border crossing were detected, the highest monthly figure in 2020 so far, which is nevertheless significantly below the 1,314 fugure from May 2019.

There is another marked difference in terms of nationality of those trying to enter the country. While most of the persons were Pakistani, there has been a significant drop in the number of Algerian citizens over last year and an increase in Moroccans and Afghans.

The number of those expressing the intention to ask for asylum in Slovenia has dropped as well. Pakistanis express it far more rarely than Moroccans and Algerians, with most continuing their journey to their desired destination after being placed in an asylum facility.

The Slovenian police have returned 2,030 foreigners to other countries, most of them to Croatia - as many as 2,019.

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