Slovenian Court Ruling a Boost in Battle against Refugee, Migrant ‘Pushbacks’

In the wake of the ruling, the prevalence of such practices was illustrated by a new report from the office of the Slovenian Ombudsman on the collective expulsion of more than a 100 people between July 19 and 20 last year near Ilirska Bistrica close to Slovenia’s southern border with Croatia.

Though detained overnight, none of the men were issued any official documents as required by the law. No one was informed of the reasons for their detention or of their right to legal counsel and to appeal the detention. The police said only seven people, five of them minors, requested international protection.

All others were subsequently returned to Croatia on the basis of the bilateral agreement despite the fact that no police procedures were undertaken or decisions issued establishing the offence of illegal border crossing as required under the terms of the agreement.

The Ombudsman welcomed the fact that in May 2020 the Interior Ministry issued new instructions to police, while noting that it had not yet seen them. But he warned that when police abdicate in their duties it can lead to a situation in which “an individual in police custody is no longer of importance, making the person no more than an object of a police procedure.”

The Ombudsman said the administrative court ruling in the case of the Cameroonian was “encouraging”. InfoKolpa said it was “a massive win” that nevertheless “leaves a bitter taste in the mouth”.

For others, the collective said, it remains “almost impossible to find justice”.

No lawsuit, for example, has been filed in the Ilirska Bistrica case of illegal collective expulsion.

Courts offer best hope

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