Varuh ДЌlovekovih pravic

Ombudsman finds police's handling of migrants less than ideal

Following media reports about Slovenian police allegedly turning away foreign citizens who wanted to request asylum, the Human Rights Ombudsman's office has found that the handling of migrants by the police was not ideal.

A report issued on Wednesday says that the police should pay attention to personal circumstances of each migrant to eliminate any doubt about their intention to ask for asylum, and prevent this request from potentially being overheard.

In mid-June, representatives of the Ombudsman's Office visited the police stations in Črnomelj and Metlika, near the border with Croatia, without prior notice.

The visit took place after media reports featured migrants saying that they had been turned away by the Slovenian police although they wanted to ask for international protection in Slovenia.

Official notes of the police are usually very sparing and focus only on the way the individual travelled, and crossed the border, the report says.

Moreover, official documents also feature very little information about the reasons why an individual had left their home country, which may be vital in case they request asylum.

The report provides an example in which a police record says that the individual was an economic migrant, while the official note, a different document, says that the same person fled their country due to threats.

The report says that migrants must be given enough time to express their asylum requests, underlining that these wishes must be honoured.

Especially in cases when individuals are sent back within a very short time period, without a written order and without the chance for effective legal recourse, it would be useful to collect statements about the individuals' intention to seek asylum.

The Ombudsman's Office says that it expected the Interior Ministry to respond with concrete answers to the criticism. Instead, it only said that the police force respected the rights of foreign citizens it handled.

Responding to the release of the report today, the ministry said that it was yet to receive the document and that it would study it carefully.