sty12x18 Migration
sty12x18 Asylum
sty12x18 Main Difficulties

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1. Migration

During the communist era, economic factors caused migration from other parts of former Yugoslavia to Slovenia, which is now mainly a transit area. Nevertheless, it is becoming a target country, not only for asylum seekers, but also for illegal migrants. The use of conterfeit documents is increasing and illegal crossing of the state borders is more and more organized 166.

Illegal migration


Number of foreigners crossing the border illegally





1998 (August)






Source: Ministry of the Interior, Slovenia, August 1998


Number of people rejected at the border









Source: Ministry of the Interior, Slovenia, 1997

Data indicates the main movements of illegal migration in the territory of the Republic of Slovenia, which flow from the Southern and Eastern European states through the Republic of Hungary and the Republic of Croatia and then through Slovenia toward West European states. The increase in the number of illegal crossings of the state border is a consequence of the resumption of old migration flows through the territory of the former Yugoslavia, with Bosnia-Herzegovina becoming a transit state for numerous migrants from Turkey, Iraq, Egypt and Bangladesh 167. The majority of illegal entries are made by Romanians and people from former Yugoslavia.

In order to fight illegal migration, the Slovene police have developed close cooperation with neighbouring countries and the main destination countries, for example Germany. This cooperation includes information exchanges and the coordination of measures concerning prevention and investigation related to trafficking in human beings and in the detection of the use of forged documents.

Within the framework of trilateral meetings between Slovenia, Italy and Hungary, a joint Declaration was signed by the Ministers of the Interior of Italy, Slovenia and Hungary on 13 May 1997, whereby the Ministries committed themselves to strengthening cooperation in the spheres of the fight against organized crime, drug trafficking and money laudering and in the fight against unlawful immigration 168.

Slovenian criminal law stipulates a prison sentence of up to three years for a person who engages in the illegal trafficking of others across the state border of Slovenia, or for a person who, for self-seeking purposes or as part of an organized group, trafficks another person across the border. Moreover, the Employment of Foreigners Act stipulates a fine for employers who employ foreigners illegally.

In the short term, the European Commission considers that legislation on foreign nationals is indispensable and border controls must be improved; the issue of determining the border with Croatia is essential 169

Readmission agreements

The Republic of Slovenia has concluded agreements on readmission with all neighbouring states (Italy, Austria, Hungary and Croatia). Besides Italy and Austria, other EU Member States with which Slovenia has concluded readmission agreements are Denmark, the Benelux states, France and Greece and, as regards non-EU Member States, the Swiss Confederation, Slovakia, Poland, Estonia, Lithuania and the Czech Republic. The readmission agreements signed with Canada, Romania and Germany deal only with nationals of the contracting countries. Agreements with Bulgaria, Latvia and Macedonia are in preparation 170.

In 1997,on the basis of readmission agreements, 1,554 foreigners were returned by foreign law enforcement and 3,577 foreigners by the Slovenian police force 171. The European Commission considers that practical problems remain with the carrying out of deportations 172.

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2. Asylum

From June 1991 until June 1998, 236 asylum seekers filed applications, the majority of which came from the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (64), Iran(43), Bosnia-Herzegovina (29), Iraq (23) and Liberia(15) 173.


Asylum applications





1998 (first half)






Source: Ministry of the Interior, Slovenia, August 1998


Procedure and legal basis

The Republic of Slovenia ratified both the 1951 Geneva Convention and its Protocol of 1967 without any reservations. Refugee status is granted on the basis of the criteria of the Geneva Convention and the provisions of Article 34 of the Law on Foreigners, which stipulates that refugee status in the Republic of Slovenia may be ratified for a foreigner who has abandoned a country of which he is a citizen, or in which he had permanent residence as a person without citizenship, in order to avoid persecution because of his political opinion, his cultural or scientific activities or because of his national, racial or religious affiliations 174. Finalization of the draft new Asylum law is not yet complete, but should be finished by the end of 1998 175.

However the Act on Foreigners does not contain any special stipulations with regard to the execution of the procedure to grant asylum status, so that it is the law on general administrative procedure which is used 176.

There is a 3-day deadline to fill in an application for asylum. Should this deadline not be respected, the application is rejected 177.

If refugee status is not granted, the asylum seeker is not sent back to his country of origin if he would be at risk of danger to his life and freedom due to race, religion, ethnic affinity or political views or if he could be exposed to torture or inhuman or degrading treatment (Article 33 of the Act on Foreigners).

It should be mentioned that there are 5,000-10,000 stateless persons in Slovenia who, for many reasons, did not apply for either Slovenian citizenship before 31 December 1991, the deadline fixed by the Slovenian government after independence, or refugee status. The Slovenian authorities, together with UNHCR, are currently dealing with this issue in order to identify, as a first step, the precise number of stateless persons. The government has also drafted a law on regularization which will go to Parliament in 1999 and provides for a permanent residence permit for all eligible applicants. This point was strongly advocated by UNHCR 178.

There are two NGOs dealing with Convention refugees: GEA 2000 and the Slovene Filantropija 179.

Temporary protection

From 1991 onwards, there were about 70,000 people seeking temporary protection in Slovenia due to the wars in Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina. A new Law on Temporary Protection was adopted in July 1997, as well as a decree on the gaining of temporary protection for citizens of Bosnia-Herzegovina. The conditions were modified in April 1998.

In June 1998, 4,201 displaced people were still registered in Slovenia 180. In addition, UNHCR estimates that 150 refugees from Bosnia-Herzegovina remain in Slovenia without any kind of status. This decrease is composed of voluntary returnees to Bosnia, people who have left for third countries and people who have had the opportunity to regularize their status in Slovenia in a different way by getting work permits and temporary residence permits according to the law on foreigners.

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Main difficulties

Border controls, and in particular the question of the border with Croatia, is the main problem. The use of counterfeit documents is increasing and illegal crossing is more and more organized.

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166. Written statement of the Slovenian delegation to the 6th Conference of European Ministers responsible for migration affairs, June 1996

167. Ministry of the Interior, Slovenia, December 1997

168. Ministry of the Interior, Slovenia, December 1997

169. European Commission, 'Progress towards accession', November 1998

170. Ministry of the Interior, Slovenia, December 1997

171. Ministry of the Interior, Slovenia, International cooperation departmentt, Gvido Mravljak, Head of the international cooperation department and Matjaz Dolsina, Under-Secretary of State, October 1998

172. European Commission, 'Progress towards accession', November 1998

173. Ministry of the Interior, Slovenia, International cooperation department, Gvido Mravljak and Matjaz Dolsina, October 1998

174. Ministry of the Interior, Slovenia, December 1997

175. UNHCR, 1998

176. Ministry of the Interior, Slovenia, 1998

177. Ministry of the Interior, Slovenia, 1998

178. UNHCR, Annabelle Roig, December 1998

179. UNHCR, Annabelle Roig, December 1998

180. UNHCR Ljubljana, Annabelle Roig, Repatriation/Protection Officer, August 1998

© European Parliament: February 1999