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UNHCR concerned about new asylum law in Slovenia
Thursday 3, January 2008
BUDAPEST, January 3 (UNHCR) - UNHCR is very concerned about a number of the provisions in Slovenia's new Law on International Protection that is coming into force on 4 January. During the drafting and legislative review process, the Refugee Agency's submitted many detailed comments and suggestions to improve the draft law but, regrettably, most were not accepted.
"We now have a new law that in transposing EU asylum directives is reducing legal standards below international levels and restricts the prospects of asylum seekers to find protection in Slovenia.," says Lloyd Dakin, UNHCR's Regional Representative responsible for Slovenia.
UNHCR has warned that the transposition of the EU asylum directives which set minimum norms, in some cases, below international ones, could lead to EU member states lowering standards in their national law. "This is exactly what has happened in Slovenia just as it assumes the EU Presidency", says Dakin.
Slovenia is one of the countries with the lowest recognition rates in Europe. Only one asylum seeker was recognised as a refugee in 2006 and two in 2007, UNHCR states. Among the most worrying provisions of the law is the increased substitution of full scale asylum procedures by accelerated procedures, although such fast procedures should only be applied in a defined number of exceptional cases.
At some critical stages in the asylum process, appeals do not have a suspensive effect so that asylum seekers may find themselves returned to another country where their life or freedom is threatened before their case has been properly evaluated. Also the law foresees the wide-spread use of detention for asylum seekers with no exemption for persons with special needs such as families with children.
While UNHCR is disappointed overall, the new asylum law also has some positive aspects. For example, it introduces the possibility of resettling refugees in camps in other countries in Slovenia, something which UNHCR is trying to encourage among other EU member states.
UNHCR will continue its close collaboration and cooperation with the government and other interested stakeholders to ensure that everyone who deserves international protection in Slovenia receives it, says Dakin.