The Human Rights Ombudsman of the Republic of Slovenia can, in exceptional circumstances, provide effective assistance to people whose rights have not been encroached upon by the authorities of the Republic of Slovenia, but it is likely that such encroachment occurred abroad and a person does not know what to do about such an encroachment upon their rights.
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A social work centre (Centre) contacted the Human Rights Ombudsman of the Republic of Slovenia (Ombudsman) and informed it of a situation of a mother, a Slovenian citizen, who resided in the Republic of Serbia and was exiled from the country based on a court decision due to her unregulated status. She has resided illegally in the Republic of Serbia since 2003. Seven minor children, citizens of the Republic of Serbia, came to Slovenia with their mother, who had also been educated there. The Centre asked the Ombudsman for help in finding accommodation for the family in Slovenia, as it was unsuccessful in doing so itself. The Centre also wanted to find a way to ensure the family received suitable means of subsistence.
The Ombudsman explained to the Centre that it cannot help with finding the accommodation nor offer legal assistance, but we nevertheless proposed that they inform the mother of the option of arranging citizenship for the children, which would enable a permanent residence registration and the acquisition of material resources for the family’s living needs. We further assessed that, considering all the circumstances, the decision of the court in the Republic of Serbia was perhaps not entirely correct, so we proposed that they help the mother with filing an appeal as the time limit still applied at the time. We received the Centre’s response that they cannot represent the mother in the judicial procedure in Serbia (they also cannot carry out this role in Slovenia), as they lack sufficient knowledge. We pointed out that enforcing rights in Serbia would be exceptionally difficult after the time limit and proposed that they only state in the appeal that the best interests of all minor children, who were living in Serbia and being schooled there, were not considered in the court’s decision on the exile, which is not compliant with Article 3 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. We immediately informed the Embassy of the Republic of Serbia in the Republic of Slovenia and the Protector of Citizens in the Republic of Serbia about the matter and asked both authorities for their help in the relevant case.
The mother’s appeal before the Serbian court was successful and the family was able to return to Serbia one month and five days after the mother’s exile from the Republic of Serbia.
The Ombudsman is not competent to assess the work of authorities in the Republic of Serbia, but our intervention nevertheless significantly contributed to the exceptionally fast resolution of the family’s serious problem, which is why the Ombudsman considered the complaint justified and successfully resolved. 9.0-9/2022