Slovenia ombudsman asks court to examine new migration law

Reuters News
Posted: Apr 19, 2017 8:24 AM

By Marja Novak

LJUBLJANA (Reuters) - Slovenia's human rights ombudsman asked the country's top court on Wednesday to rule whether some changes in laws related to foreigners, passed in January, are in line with the constitution.

The changes allow the police to close the border to most illegal migrants for a limited period if parliament deems it necessary for reasons of national security.

The changes "are making foreigners an object rather than a subject of the (migration) procedure", the ombudsman, Vlasta Nussdorfer, said in her request to the Constitutional Court, and she believes they breach human rights.

The Council of Europe and the Amnesty International also said in January the law was a backward step for human rights in Slovenia.

Parliament changed the law after almost 500,000 migrants passed through Slovenia in 2015 and early 2016, coming mostly across Turkey and into the Balkans. Once in Slovenia, a member of the visa-free Schengen area, they could go virtually anywhere in Europe. That route was shut off by in March 2016 by an agreement between Turkey and the European Union.

The government claims Slovenia would not be able to endure another large influx of migrants, particularly since its northern neighbor, Austria, and other west European states were closing their doors to migrants.

The legal changes have not been used so far because it had not seen any significant illegal migration through Slovenia in recent months, the government said. It also said the changes are in line with the Slovenian and European legislation.

The Constitutional Court did not say when it would rule on Nussdorfer's request, but its procedures usually take several months.

(Reporting By Marja Novak, editing by Larry King)