The Council of Europe's Human Rights Commissioner Thomas Hammarberg said Thursday that Slovenia had a good human rights record, but two issues remain: the status of citizens of former Yugoslavia erased from the permanent residency registry in 1992, and living conditions of the Roma.
In a statement for the press at the end of a two-day visit to Slovenia, Hammarberg expressed the belief that the situation of the Roma in the country was improving, especially in the north-east, where there has been progress in relations with the majority population.
However, problems remain in several settlements in the south-east, according to him.
Touching on the erased, Hammarberg pointed out that many had not had their rights reinstated, despite rulings by the Slovenian Constitutional Court and the European Court of Human Rights. He added that another ruling was expected in Strasbourg soon.
The fee the erased need to pay to initiate the procedure to have their status reinstated is very high. People who were wronged by being deleted from the registry should not have to pay fees to have their wrongs made right, he said.
He also commented on the provision demanding that those who left Slovenia and lived abroad for over five years must prove that they had tried to get back, saying that this was often very hard to do.
Hammarberg said that the low number of people who requested to have their status reinstated was proof that the system did not work. After 20 years it is time to settle the issue, he said.
Hammarberg's term will conclude at the end of the month. He was accompanied by his successor Nils Muiznieks in what was a tour of the region that included visits to Croatia, Serbia and Bosnia-Herzegovina.
On Wednesday the pair were received by President Danilo Türk. They were joined by Human Rights Ombudsman Zdenka Čebašek Travnik and representatives of civil society.
On Thursday, they met Justice Minister Senko Pličanič, Foreign Minister Karl Erjavec and Interior Ministry State Secretary Robert Marolt, as minister Vinko Gorenak was delayed at a budget session.
During the meeting with the foreign minister Hammarberg said that Slovenia was an important and active member of the CoE and its level of respect for human rights could serve as model to other countries, according to a press release from the ministry.
Talks with Marolt focused on the erased, according to the Interior Ministry. The commissioner was interested in Slovenia's activity in terms of providing relevant information to the erased and the administrative fee.
Source: Slovenian Press Agency (STA)