On Thursday, Slovenian parliament approved government’s proposal to amend the law on foreigners with restrictive provisions for potential migrants and asylum seekers. The law has been criticized by international non-governmental organizations and the Council of Europe, reports N1 on January 27, 2017.
The law was supported by 47 MPs, while 18 MPs voted against, which was enough for the law to come into effect immediately after its publication in the Official Gazette. All six MPs from the opposition United Left voted against, as well as individual MPs from other parties, despite government’s assurances that the law provided for stringent measures to control migration flow just in case of a new mass migration crisis and that it would not be used in other situations.
Former Culture Minister Julijana Bizjak Mlakar said before the vote that she would vote against and that a part of the discussion which could be heard in the Parliament sounded like “Germany in the 1930s”.
Although the law is, according to the United Left, contrary to the Slovenian constitution and international conventions about the protection of refugees, most parliamentary groups supported it because they think that there is still a possibility of new migrant crisis erupting in Europe and that Slovenia should be prepared.
The law includes a provision which allows the police, in case of larger number of migrants arriving to the Slovenian border, to refuse entry to potential asylum seekers, while those who would illegally enter the country would be sent back to the country from which they came.
Arguing for the need to adopt such a law, Interior Minister Vesna Gyorkos Žnidar said that it did not violate European regulations and international conventions, which relate just to refugees and not to economic migrants. She also said that Slovenia was surrounded by EU member states which are safe countries for refugees and that the government should act in accordance with the national interest, since the European Union still does not have a consistent and sustainable immigration policy.
According to the Minister, Slovenia started preparing for the new law in the autumn of 2015, when representatives of the European Commission said that it could become a “hot spot” for migrants and it had to accept a large number of migrants who came via the Balkan route. “Then all alarm lights went off”, she said.
Human rights groups criticized the decision. Amnesty International called the law a “serious backward step for human rights in Slovenia”. The Council of Europe demanded last week that Slovenia not prevent migration through its territory.
Two days ago, Slovenian Parliament also adopted amendments to the law on the state border control which, in case of new migrant crisis, provide for the activation of the system for automatic recording of car registration plates on border crossings in order to ensure safety.