A recent report on Slovenia’s implementation of returns to Croatia highlights barriers to access to asylum and deficiencies in return procedures, in potential breach of the principle of non-refoulement.

The report was published by the Legal-Informational Centre for non-governmental organisations (PIC) following a visit to Velika Kladuša and Bihać, Bosnia and Herzegovina at the end of June 2018, which included interviews with persons returned from Slovenia to Croatia and then to Bosnia. Returns from Croatia to Bosnia were reportedly carried out immediately in most cases.

In June 2018, Slovenia increased the number of returns to Croatia under a bilateral readmission agreement. According to official statistics, 885 persons were apprehended for irregular entry and 652 were forcibly returned in June, compared to 1,158 persons apprehended and 148 returned in May. A decline in new asylum applications was also observed that month.

In its report, PIC has documented cases of people returned to Bosnia, who had expressed the intention to seek asylum upon crossing the Croatian-Slovenian border but were not allowed to access the asylum procedure. Some of the interviews conducted by the Slovenian police upon apprehension for irregular entry were conducted in English without ensuring interpretation, despite the fact that some persons were not able to sufficiently understand the language. In two reported cases, the minutes of the police interviews conducted upon apprehension explicitly stated the individuals’ reasons for fleeing their home country, namely persecution and armed conflict. Despite such indications, the police failed to provide information on how to access the asylum procedure, in line with the recast Asylum Procedures Directive. This information was provided only upon actual return to Croatia in some cases, while in others individuals were told that they could not apply for asylum in Slovenia. Even after being recorded at the apprehension interview, the reasons for flight were not stated in the return decisions issued by the police.

PIC also found unaccompanied children returned from Slovenia without a prior assessment of best interests and guarantees of appropriate care in Croatia, as required by law.

 

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*This information was first published by AIDA


This article appeared in the ECRE Weekly Bulletin . You can subscribe to the Weekly Bulletin here.

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