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Slovenia: Ombudsman criticises the treatment of detainees at the Postojna Centre for Foreigners

The Ombudsman of the Republic of Slovenia spoke on the new method of placing detainees in containers at the Centre for Foreigners in Postojna. After two visits to the centre in 2020 with his experts, he informed the Ministry of the Interior of his findings and, after receiving their response, prepared a final report. The report was published on 10 November 2020.

Inappropriate long-term accommodation

The Ombudsman considers the containers unsuitable for the long-term accommodation of detainees. He proposed to Ministry of the Interior that such installations be stopped immediately and that the rules stipulate only short-term installation of individuals in containers, as well as specific safeguards to prevent their arbitrary use.

Use of service dogs

He also suggested that the Ministry of the Interior refrain from using service dogs at the centre (for example, during meals). This follows from conversations with detainees who expressed discomfort due to the presence of dogs inside and in front of the container. This usage has been documented in some (publicly published) videos. The Ombudsman considers that in institutions where people are deprived of their liberty, use of a service dog can only be justified exceptionally and in individual cases. He deems such routine use inappropriate.

Applicants for international protection

The Ombudsman also notes in his report the lengthy amount of time people are waiting at the centre - after stating their application intentions - before being allowed a personal interview to begin the process of submitting an application for international protection. Currently it can take up to several weeks, even though EU law requires applications be registered within a maximum of six days. During this time, a person who has given their intention of applying should already be considered an applicant for international protection and is entitled to certain conditions. The Ombudsman therefore suggested to the Ministry of the Interior that timely registration of applications for the recognition of international protection be ensured without delay.

Additionally, the Ombudsman draws attention to an instruction document obtained from the police as a cause for concern. It details a one-month trial of a rapid processing system for foreigners who express their intention to
 apply for international protection at police stations, which includes detention, rejection and then return, aiming to indirectly "reduce the attractiveness of illegal travel" to Slovenia. as. According to the Ombudsman, the detention of an applicant for international protection may be ordered only exceptionally and only due to individual circumstances on the part of the applicant. Ordering detention cannot be justified in order to achieve systemic change and deter migrants.

Find further information on this here.

An emergency session has also been held on the situation at the centre - find out more here.