U.S. Committee for Refugees World Refugee Survey 2002 - Slovenia
|Publisher||United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants|
|Publication Date||10 June 2002|
|Cite as||United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, U.S. Committee for Refugees World Refugee Survey 2002 - Slovenia , 10 June 2002, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3d04c1542c.html [accessed 21 January 2017]|
At the end of 2001, Slovenia hosted approximately 2,700 refugees and asylum seekers. These included about 2,400 Bosnians with temporary protection and 305 pending asylum cases, the largest number (almost 100) from Iran.
During the year, 1,511 asylum seekers submitted applications in Slovenia, an 83 percent decrease from the 9,244 claims filed in 2000. During 2001, the largest number of asylum seekers came from Turkey (379), followed by Iran (272), Iraq (214), and Yugoslavia (205). Males represented 82 percent of asylum claimants. The steep decrease in asylum applications appeared to be a consequence of stepped-up border enforcement and changing migration patterns in the region. During 2001, about 20,000 undocumented migrants crossed into Slovenia, according to the Interior Ministry, compared to almost 36,000 in 2000, a decrease of 44 percent.
During the year, Slovenian authorities acted on more than 10,000 asylum applications, but granted UN Refugee Convention status in only one case, to a Serb from Kosovo. The largest number of adjudicated cases (51) was from Yugoslavia (mostly Kosovars), with an approval rate of 18 percent for some form of protection, mostly on humanitarian grounds stemming from Slovenia's obligations under Article 3 of the European Convention on the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (ECHR). At year's end, 52 Yugoslav (mostly Kosovar) cases were pending.
The overwhelming majority of cases (9,991) were closed because the asylum seekers had left the state facility where they were being housed and did not appear for their hearings. Adjudicators rejected 97 cases on the merits. Since 1990, Slovenia has granted refugee status in only four cases.
Some 248 Bosnian refugees with temporary protection in Slovenia voluntarily repatriated during 2001. All received cash allowances, but only 42 opted to return by convoy.
Asylum seekers may lodge their applications at the Ministry of Interior, at the reception center, or with the police, regardless of the legality and length of their presence in Slovenia. Border authorities are directed to refer asylum seekers to a reception center. Every applicant is entitled to an individual hearing. Slovenia's Administrative Court hears appeals of first-instance decisions, and must reach a verdict within 30 days.
In July 2001, the Slovenian Parliament amended the Law on Asylum by speeding up the fast-track procedure for manifestly unfounded claims, reducing from 15 days to 3 the deadline for appeal. The amendments also prevent asylum seekers from trying to rebut the presumption of a safe-third-country alternative at the first instance, but permit such arguments at the appeals stage. Deportation is suspended pending appeals, including appeals to the Supreme Court. Parliament amended Article 27 of the Law on Asylum to permit the government to restrict the movement of asylum applicants for up to three months (extendable for another month) if the asylum seeker is suspected of misleading authorities or abusing the asylum procedure. Parliament also introduced a complementary form of protection for cases falling under Article 3 of the ECHR.
According to the Law on Temporary Refuge, temporary-protection beneficiaries have the right to accommodation in a collective center, and to health care and education. Beneficiaries are permitted to work no more than two months per year or eight hours per week. Humanitarian assistance is provided only to those living outside collective centers.
Slovenia granted temporary protection to some 70,000 refugees from the Bosnian conflict in 1992 and to about 2,500 Kosovars in 1999. At the end of 2001, no Kosovars remained with temporary protection, and only 2,377 mostly elderly Bosnians still enjoyed temporary protection. Most remaining refugees from Bosnia originated from areas where they would be in the ethnic minority, mostly from Republika Sprksa. Muslims represented 81 percent of the remaining Bosnians with temporary protection, half of whom lived in collective centers and half of whom were accommodated privately.
During the year, 58 Bosnian temporary-protection beneficiaries changed their status to "foreign status," thus making them eligible for temporary or permanent residence. Other temporary-protection beneficiaries were dissuaded from applying for a change of status for fear that if accepted only for temporary-residence permits, they could lose their temporary protected status if they were later not allowed to renew their temporary-residence permits. The Law on Temporary Refuge also disallows the time a person spends in Slovenia with temporary protected status from counting toward the residency requirements needed to acquire permanent-resident status. Consequently, most refugees with almost a decade of residence in Slovenia who attempted to adjust to permanent-resident status were treated as though they had never resided in the country at all.
Reception and Integration
After filing their claims, asylum seekers are usually accommodated in a special reception center, located in Ljubljana and administered by the Ministry of Interior. Those in need have access to free board, clothing, health care, and a small daily allowance. Applicants who decide after seven days to live elsewhere may apply for financial assistance amounting to 60 percent of the legal minimum pay.
The Ljubljana reception center has a maximum capacity of 120 beds, and the Interior Ministry was widely criticized in 2000 for severe overcrowding in the center. The European Commission's 2001 report on Slovenia's progress towards accession to European Union membership noted that Slovenia had yet to create a center for asylum seekers separate from the center for illegal immigrants. During the year, the government's Office for Immigration and Refugees (which administers centers for temporary-protection beneficiaries) also began accommodating asylum seekers in five other reception centers around the country. While expansion of accommodation space was certainly a factor in reducing overcrowding in the Ljubljana center, the most obvious reason for the relief in overcrowding was the dramatic fall in asylum applicants from 9,244 in 2000 to 1,511 in 2001.
During the year, Slovenia granted permanent-residence status to 1,285 persons based on the 1999 Law on Regularization of Status of Citizens from other States-Successors of the Former Yugoslavia, which allows certain persons who have lived in Slovenia since June 1991 to adjust to permanent-residence status. Slovenia granted another 627 foreigners permanent residence based on the Aliens Act.