Pushbacks and the Right to Claim Asylum in Slovenia
By the International Protection Act any third country national has the right to seek asylum in Slovenia. If a person crosses the border outside the official border crossings, his entry is not considered illegal when he or she expresses his intention to seek asylum in Slovenia. In practice the intention to seek asylum is expressed at police stations, but despite the fact that the asylum procedure is a right provided by law, the police in Slovenia are systematically denying this right for the majority of people who arrive in Slovenia through the Balkan route.
According to many testimonies Slovene police are registering people who seek asylum in Slovenia as illegal migrants and are deporting them to Croatia. Since 2018 more than 25000 have been expelled to Croatia by readmission, many have been deported several times. After you express intention to apply for asylum, the police are legally obliged to acknowledge your intention and transfer you to the asylum centre located in Ljubljana on address Cesta v gorice 13, 1000 Ljubljana.
The Slovene police might try to stop you from applying for asylum, or make it very difficult. They may ignore your request and return you to Croatian police. This is called a “pushback” and it is illegal. If you wish to seek asylum in Slovenia, immediately and repeatedly say that you are an asylum seeker and that you request asylum in Slovenia. Tell it to every policeman, social worker or health worker you meet. Insist that Slovenia is your final destination. Ask what your rights are as an asylum seeker and demand a translator. During your detention you have the right to contact the office of the Ombudsman of Human Rights in Slovenia regarding your detention. You have the right of medical examination at your own expense.
During the procedure with police, they might ask you trick questions to qualify you as an "illegal migrant" instead of an "asylum seeker". If they ask you, for example: "Why did you come to Slovenia?" and you answer to work or seek better life or to go to another country, they can stop you from applying for asylum. The police could tell you to sign some documents, not related to asylum procedure. Insist you will not sign any documents you do not understand. By law the documents should be provided in the language you understand.
The police may still insist on deporting you to Croatia despite clearly stating intention to seek international protection in Slovenia. The violence of Croatian police has been extensively reported. If you think you will face torture upon deportation to Croatia, you have the right to object the deportation because Croatia represents for you a dangerous country.
Translators may sometimes behave unprofessionally and tell the police facts that can be bad for your case. The translator is there only to help with the communication between you and the police. She or he must only interpret what you and the interviewer are saying, and must not add any personal views. You can say that you do not understand the translator or that she or he does not translate your words well and demand another translator.
Unfortunately the practice of pushbacks and police violence against migrants has become too common in states on the Balkan Route. Despite numerous testimonies, reports and several court cases the illegal actions of collective expulsions is a daily reality. Many of the legally binding rights listed above are not respected by police. If you wish to anonymously report the incident of a pushback, you can do it on website Pushback map or contact Border Violence Monitoring Network through website or Facebook. For reporting a pushback, police violence, unlawful detention or for receiving additional information you can contact organization Infokolpa through Facebook. If you are already in Slovenia and you desire to present an indictment of illegal action of police you can do this by contacting the Specialized State Prosecutor's Office of the Republic of Slovenia. In Slovenia the emergency number for police is 113 and for urgent medical help it is 112.