Natisni vsebino

The Constitutional Court okays expansion of army powers in face of refugee crisis

10.06.2016 10:41
Category: work and news

The Constitutional Court has ruled that the expansion of the powers of the army in response to the refugee crisis was not unconstitutional as claimed by the Human Rights Ombudsman and a civil initiative.

The top court disagreed with the ombudsman office's view that the limited police powers awarded to the army were defined too vaguely.

The ombudsman petitioned the court at the initiative of Ljubljana-based Radio Študent, which had unsuccessfully attempted to organise a referendum on the issue.

While not sharing the radio's view that the army should not perform additional tasks, the office agreed that certain powers, especially those concerning group and crowd control, were too vague. It also saw issues related to oversight, accountability and a lack of complaint mechanisms.

Four of the six justices disagreed, arguing the provisions could be interpreted with enough clarity.

A dissenting opinion was issued by Jadranka Sovdat, who argued that doubts regarding powers over civilians had in fact been deepened by the new legal provisions.

A strong reaction to the ruling has already come from the opposition United Left (ZL), which attacked the court for avoiding a content-based debate every time a politically sensitive issue is at stake.

Instead of protecting the Constitution and freedoms it is "legitimising decisions of the government and of the right-wing opposition that step up repression against refugees and encourage hatred on the basis of religion and race".

Parliament passed the government-proposed changes in late October, a few weeks after Slovenia was hit by a refugee wave that saw around 500,000 people entering the country and with few exceptions moving on until the Balkan refugee route was closed in March.

The changes entered into force on 11 December but it was not before February that parliament formally awarded the army certain additional powers for a three-month period.

Since then, the army never effectively used the powers but merely accompanied police forces on the border, Defence Minister Andrej Katič said this week.

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