Slovenia: UNHCR concerned about new asylum laws

Briefing Notes, 25 November 2005

This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Jennifer Pagonis to whom quoted text may be attributed at the press briefing, on 25 November 2005, at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

UNHCR is concerned about some amendments to Slovenia's Asylum Act that are currently under preparation. If Parliament adopts the draft legislation proposed by the Slovene government yesterday (Thursday, 24 November) there is a real danger that persons in need of international protection may be deported to countries where their life or freedom is threatened.

UNHCR's greatest worry is a newly introduced pre-procedure whereby the police will be entitled to decide whether a person qualifies to seek asylum or not. This new category of "a person who has expressed intent to seek asylum" is unheard of. Such persons would have no safeguards against "refoulement" and might easily be deprived of their human right to seek asylum. Consequently, asylum seekers might be encouraged to move on irregularly within the EU instead of presenting an application in Slovenia.

UNHCR has advised the Slovene Government that the proposed changes undermine international law and go against the intention of the EU to harmonise the European asylum system.

UNHCR is continuing consultations with the government and appeals to members of the Parliament of Slovenia to iron out the shortcomings of the proposed new law.

The number of asylum applications received by Slovenia in 2004 was 1,174. In the first three quarters of 2005, the number of applications was 1,229.