Natisni vsebino

Ombudsman in the final report about police work on the border with Croatia

15.02.2019 11:06
Category: work and news

Deputy Human Rights Ombudsman Ivan Šelih told the press on Friday that certain data suggested there was some validity to accusations about migrant push-backs by Slovenian police, but added that the Ombudsman could neither corroborate nor refute the claims. The police said they respected rights, while reiterating asylum procedures were being abused.

Šelih addressed the press after the Ombudsman Office said in an interim report in mid-2018 that the police were not paying enough attention to personal circumstances of each migrant to eliminate any doubt about their intention to ask for asylum and to prevent this request from potentially being overheard.

Šelih said the Interior Ministry, citing administrative burdens, had showed limited appreciation for the Ombudsman's call for measures that would allow detailed and easily traceable procedures.

"The Ombudsman is aware that the work of police officers on the border is demanding and involves difficult conditions, but we believe that even as things stand now, no major additional administration would be needed to conduct procedures in a way that would later provide the answer to whether the foreigner had the intention of asking for asylum," Šelih said.

The office had also based its assessment on findings made during unannounced June visits to police stations in the border towns of Črnomelj and Metlika after several NGOs and media reported of alleged push-backs.

Šelih pointed out that statistics showed a substantial drop in the number of asylum requests since the beginning of June, which the Ombudsman believes is connected to the conduct of the police.

At the same time, the number of registered intentions to appeal for asylum was negligibly low at the Črnomelj station, even though the Interior Ministry reported it had noticed a general increase in this category.

In Črnomelj, 379 foreigners were processed by police in Mary 2018, with 98% expressing the intention to ask for asylum. A month later the share dropped to 3.15% and did not exceed 40% at any time in the second half of the year.

Similar numbers were provided last July by Amnesty International, which moreover said that in May over 1,200 people were caught crossing the border and 145 were returned to Croatia; in June over two-thirds of the 900 who crossed the border illegally were returned.

When also considering claims by the police that procedural standards had to be adjusted in the face of frequent attempts to abuse the asylum procedure, all of this "could give weight to accusations that irregularities possibly occurred, including collective expulsion", Šelih said.

He stressed the illegality of any potential police conduct that would see foreigners removed from the country despite their intention of asking for international protection.

Police are required to register any such intention announcements, while procedures examining whether the application is justified are in the domain of the Interior Ministry and not the police.

Still, on the basis of documents available, the Ombudsman could neither corroborate nor refute claims that procedure was denied to some foreigners despite their intention to ask for international protection, Šelih said.

The Ombudsman is proposing that the Interior Minister and the police adopt necessary measures directed toward securing foreigners' rights, including the right to access international protection

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