In Dialogue with Slovenia, Experts of the Committee against Torture Describe the State’s National Preventive Mechanism as One of the Most Effective in the World, Ask about Reported Violations of Asylum Seekers’ Rights and Measures to Address Violence against Women
The Committee against Torture today concluded its consideration of the fourth periodic report of Slovenia, with Committee Experts praising the State’s national preventive mechanism as one of the most effective in the world, and raising questions about reported violations of asylum seekers’ rights and measures to address violence against women.
Ilvija Puce, Committee Expert and Country Co-Rapporteur, said that Slovenia’s national preventive mechanism was regarded as one of the most effective in Europe and the world. Had the recommendations made by the national preventive mechanism in the last four years been accepted and implemented, in particular in relation to mental health institutions?
Todd Buchwald, Committee Expert and Country Co-Rapporteur, said the national preventive mechanism had reported numerous violations of the rights of foreigners who were apprehended by the police for unauthorised entry into the country from mid-2018 to the end of 2021. It reported that foreigners were often removed from the country without individual assessment, there were violations of the prohibition of collective expulsion and the principle of non-refoulement, and rules on special treatment of minors had been violated. How was the Government ensuring that the rights of asylum seekers were protected?
The State had reported that more than half – 56.6 per cent – of women in Slovenia had experienced at least one form of violence since turning age 15. What efforts were being made to strengthen the State’s response to violence against women, address its causes, collect and analyse data on violence, improve training of police, and build capacity to address violence? The highest sentence for rape was six years imprisonment. Were there plans to increase sentences for rape? What steps would be taken to better implement rape legislation?
Introducing the report, Dominika Švarc Pipan, Minister of Justice of Slovenia and head of the delegation, said Slovenia firmly believed that all acts of torture or any other cruel or inhuman treatment or punishment needed to be prevented, eliminated and prosecuted. Torture was prohibited under article 18 of the Constitution and criminalised within the legislative framework in the Criminal Code.
The delegation said the national preventive mechanism had been developed in 2006. The Ombudsman cooperated with non-governmental organizations for the prevention of torture. In 2017, the Ombudsman had 40 staff, and 51 in 2022. In 2019, its budget was 2.8 million euros; it was now over four million. Centres for children and adolescents cooperated with the Ombudsman to implement a complaints system and support the detainees. The Ombudsman also monitored the situation in psychiatric hospitals and prepared regular reports on the situation.
On asylum seekers’ rights, the delegation said that there had been a case where police officers did not conduct thorough individual hearings of asylum seekers due to a lack of capacity and instead conducted a group hearing. This was an isolated case. Police officers had been trained on international standards regarding asylum processing. In October this year, a decree was adopted on care for unaccompanied minors that established a dedicated reception facility and accommodation centres. It would enter into force by February 2024. The State was required to assess the possibility of ill-treatment of migrants in their home country and respect the principle of non-refoulement.
Ms. Švarc Pipan stated that the national programme on preventing and combatting domestic violence and violence against women was currently being discussed and coordinated among the ministries and was expected to be adopted by the end of this year. The draft programme included 104 measures, ranging from soft awareness-raising measures to legislation changes. A domestic violence action plan for 2023 to 2024 had also been drawn up.
The delegation added that the Criminal Code had been amended to introduce the concept of coercion. Since the amendment, the police had recorded a slight increase in reports of rape. Murders based on the infringement of equality were currently punished with up to 30 years imprisonment. The State planned to compile harmonised data on domestic violence from medical services. Training on domestic violence and gender-based violence was provided regularly to all relevant stakeholders in collaboration with non-governmental organizations.
In concluding remarks, Claude Heller, Committee Chair, thanked the delegation for the truly constructive dialogue. The Committee aimed to engage in an ongoing dialogue with the State party based on the key concerns voiced by the Committee.
In her concluding remarks, Ms. Švarc Pipan said that the dialogue had been of great significance for the further implementation of the Convention in Slovenia. The State party intended to strengthen outcomes in this regard for the benefit of all people whom it protected.
The delegation of Slovenia consisted of representatives from the Ministry of Justice; Ministry of Labour, Family, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities; Ministry of Health; Ministry of Education; Ministry of Solidarity-Based Future; Ministry of the Interior; General Police Directorate; Government Office for the Support and Integration of Migrants; Government Office for National Minorities; and the
Permanent Mission of Slovenia to the United Nations Office at Geneva.
The Committee will issue concluding observations on the report of Slovenia at the end of its seventy-eighth session on 24 November. Those, and other documents relating to the Committee’s work, including reports submitted by States parties, will be available on the session’s webpage. Summaries of the public meetings of the Committee can be found here, and webcasts of the public meetings can be found here.
The Committee will next meet in public on Monday, 20 November at 11 a.m. to discuss follow-up to communications submitted to it under articles 19 and 22 of the Convention and reprisals.
The Committee has before it the fourth periodic report of Slovenia (CAT/C/SVN/4).
Presentation of Report
DOMINIKA ŠVARC PIPAN, Minister of Justice of Slovenia and head of the delegation, said Slovenia took its obligations under the Convention very seriously and firmly believed that all acts of torture or any other cruel or inhuman treatment or punishment needed to be prevented, eliminated and prosecuted. Torture was prohibited under article 18 of the Constitution and criminalised within the legislative framework in the Criminal Code. There were also some important rulings in Slovenia that addressed the prohibition of torture, the most recent of which, adopted this year by the Constitutional Court, was particularly important in relation to extraditions to other countries.
With the aim of raising public awareness about the extent of domestic violence and violence against women, the State had launched the “Love Doesn't Hurt” campaign. Its activities included the training of professional staff at social work centres. On the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, three key ministries jointly organised a national conference on combatting violence against women. The national programme on preventing and combatting domestic violence and violence against women was currently being discussed and coordinated among the ministries and was expected to be adopted by the end of this year. The draft programme included 104 measures, ranging from soft awareness-raising measures to legislation changes. A domestic violence action plan for 2023 to 2024 had also been drawn up.
In the period from 2018 to 2022, police officers used firearms in three cases, and the electric stun gun in two cases to date. Police officers, when using coercive means against individuals, observed the principle of proportionality and resorted to more powerful coercive means only when unavoidable.
Slovenia was facing a problem of prison overcrowding. In October 2022, the foundation stone was laid for the new Ljubljana Prison, which was to be completed in 2025. The new prison would provide both the staff and the prisoners with a modern, safe, humane and inclusive space focused on re-socialisation. The judicial police officers actively cooperated with the Ombudsman in prison staff training.
Since 2018, when it adopted its first national mental health programme, Slovenia had made significant progress in the field of mental health. The national programme shifted the focus of services for mental health from the secondary health care level to the local environment. Compared to the European average, Slovenia still had a relatively high number of people living in institutions, although it had promoted deinstitutionalisation processes such as residential group care units for more than two decades. By the end of the year, the State would adopt the strategy for deinstitutionalisation in social care 2024–2034.
The national programme of measures for Roma for the period 2021–2030 was adopted in December 2021. It aimed to improve the situation of the Roma community, as well as to preserve their culture, language and identity. In 2017, to address forced and early marriage and human trafficking within the Roma community, a dedicated working group and awareness campaign were established, and training was provided to all stakeholders. In article 132a of the Criminal Code, forced marriages were defined as a criminal offence. The “Path to Success” project aimed to increase the inclusion of Roma children and adolescents in schooling and education.
In order to combat human trafficking, the Anti-Trafficking Service was established within the Ministry of the Interior in November 2018. In March 2021, the National Assembly amended the Foreigners Act to provide new grounds for the Police to allow victims of human trafficking and domestic violence to stay in Slovenia for a period of 90 days. A 2023 legislative measure allowed victims of human trafficking from non-European countries to qualify for State compensation. A new project provided a 30-day period of assistance to victims of human trafficking in the form of accommodation, recovery and care. The project also regularly ran prevention workshops in Slovenian primary and secondary schools. Labour inspectors were trained to identify victims of human trafficking through guidelines adopted last year. In October this year, the Government adopted the decree on providing appropriate accommodation, care and treatment for unaccompanied minors.
On 25 January 2021, Slovenia’s Ombudsperson obtained “A” status under the Paris Principles. The relevant legislative basis was provided through the amendment to the Ombudsperson Act in 2017. The Act expanded the Ombudsperson's competence in the areas of education and the promotion and advancement of human rights, and provided for the establishment of the Human Rights Centre and the Human Rights Ombudsperson's Council as a consultative body, in which civil society was strongly involved. The Act had also significantly increased the Ombudsperson’s budget for such purposes. This, together with other improvements, reflected Slovenia’s uttermost commitment to respecting and promoting human rights and freedoms and engaging in dialogue with relevant stakeholders.
Questions by Committee Experts
TODD BUCHWALD, Committee Expert and Country Co-Rapporteur,said that Slovenia had been praised in some reports for maintaining a generally welcoming and inclusive environment for forcibly displaced persons, including following the surge of arrivals in 2022. However, the national preventive mechanism had reported numerous violations of the rights of foreigners who were apprehended by the police for unauthorised entry into the country from mid-2018 to the end of 2021. It reported that foreigners were often removed from the country without individual assessment, there were violations of the prohibition of collective expulsion and the principle of non-refoulement, and rules on special treatment of minors had been violated. What reforms were being made to deal with these problems? What efforts had been made to train police officers, border guards, medical personnel and other professionals on the prohibition of torture?
Reportedly, asylum seekers had a lack of access to adequate interpretation, there was a lack of leaflets and brochures informing people of their rights and asylum procedures, there were obstacles to legal representation, and a lack of any genuine possibility in some cases to challenge expulsions before the expulsion was executed. In one case, persons had not been informed of their rights before an expulsion and were fined for illegal entry into Slovenia. The police had returned unaccompanied minors to Croatia without following the required procedures, without informing social services, and without seeking any guarantees that they would be provided with appropriate care. How was the Government ensuring that the rights of asylum seekers were protected? Why had work on removing the fence on the border with Croatia, proposed in 2022, stopped?
In the Asylum Home of Ljubljana, there were reportedly more than 1,000 people being squeezed into a facility with capacity for about 350 people. There was similar overcrowding in the Asylum Home in Logatec, accommodating Ukrainians seeking temporary protection. What steps had been taken to ensure additional space and appropriate conditions for asylum seekers? In 2021, the National Assembly approved legislation that limited the right of persons to apply for international protection in “complex migration emergencies”. What did such emergencies entail? Appeals to deportation decisions did not appear to have suspensive effect. How was this new legislation consistent with the Constitution?
Mr. Buchwald said Slovenia was a party to the 1954 Convention Relating to the Status of Stateless Persons. Did the State party intend to put in place a procedure to identify those entitled to protection?
Last February, the President of the Republic formally apologised to the so-called “erased persons”. These were 25,671 citizens of the former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia who were literally erased from the register of permanent residents in Slovenia on 26 February 1992. Legislation had been implemented in 2010 to regulate the status of such persons. Thus far, only 241 erased persons had received permanent residency status. What measures were in place to implement this legislation and ensure the full integration of these persons into society? A 2013 law regulated damage payments for erased persons. Who was entitled to the benefits offered by this legislation? Did it compensate for lost pension payments? What percentage of erased persons had received compensation?
The State had reported that more than half – 56.6 per cent – of women in Slovenia had experienced at least one form of violence since turning age 15. What efforts were being made to strengthen the State’s response to violence against women, address its causes, collect and analyse data on violence, improve training of police, and build capacity to address violence? The highest sentence for rape was six years imprisonment. Few marital rape cases had reportedly been prosecuted. Were there plans to increase sentences for rape? What steps would be taken to better implement rape legislation?
What efforts had been made to promote access to education, employment, health care and other services for the Roma? Slovenia adopted a law on forced marriage in 2015. There had reportedly not been prosecutions under it, and there was a reluctance to prosecute these perceived “cultural practices”. What more could be done to enforce the law?
Mr. Buchwald asked what measures were in place to address trafficking in persons? There were reports that the number of investigations, prosecutions and convictions in trafficking cases was low. How many trafficking cases had been reported, prosecuted and ended in convictions? Funding for the project to identify, assist and protect victims of trafficking had reportedly lagged and reached only a small percentage of victims. How could the project and its funding be strengthened? Were State agents sufficiently trained to identify trafficking?
What measures were in place to ensure that the Ombudsperson had appropriate human and financial resources to carry out its mandate? Had the Constitutional Court decision to prevent the Government from changing the Ombudsperson’s budget been implemented?
In response to protests against pandemic measures in Ljubljana in 2021, police fired tear gas and water cannons at protesters. The Ombudsperson had subsequently issued recommendations for stronger controls on the use of tear gas. Had these recommendations been adopted into policy? What other measures had been implemented to ensure that force used by the police was strictly necessary and proportionate? Were police procedures for interrogation compliant with the Mendez Principles of 2021? Were police provided with translated versions of the Mendez Principles?
ILVIJA PUCE, Committee Expert and Country Co-Rapporteur, said that Slovenia’s national preventive mechanism was regarded as one of the most effective in Europe and the world. It had a separate budget line. Had the State party considered ensuring a sufficient budget for proper translation services for people in closed institutions? Had the recommendations made by the national preventive mechanism in the last four years been accepted and implemented, in particular in relation to mental health institutions?
Slovenia’s police stations were generally quite acceptable, but some did not have outdoor exercise yards and some had cells that did not have natural light. Had activities been undertaken to address these deficiencies? Access to a lawyer was reportedly not granted immediately, and there was no clear system for the provision of free legal aid in police stations. How many lawyers were providing free legal aid? How were detainees informed of their right to legal aid? Why was the rate of requests for legal aid low? A lawyer was reportedly not always present for questioning of juveniles. Why was this? Police stations did not always provide information to detainees about their right to medical aid. How was medical aid provided? Were medical staff obliged to record injuries to detainees and report them to authorities? How was the system of informing next-of-kin of detention implemented? Was there a maximum limit of time within which next-of-kin needed to be informed? How did police stations provide interpretation services for foreigners?
The Committee welcomed that a new prison was being constructed to address the overcrowding issue, and that the prison’s facilities would accommodate persons with disabilities and elderly people. What alternatives to detention and pre-trial detention were provided by the State? Were there plans to implement an electronic surveillance system? What percentage of the prison population was in pre-trial detention, and how many persons on remand were given alternatives to detention? If injuries to detainees were detected, persons were referred to the civil medical system. Were doctors in the civil system trained on the Istanbul Protocol? Who was trained to document injuries within the civil system? There were reports that prisons were understaffed. How did the State plan to fill staff vacancies? Very few activities were offered to pre-trial detainees, leading to a situation similar to solitary confinement. What possibilities for employment, education and other activities were offered to the prison population? How could prisoners submit complaints? How many complaints had been registered in the past four years, and what were their outcomes?
Ms. Puce said there were cases where juveniles were placed with adults due to a lack of specialised juvenile facilities. What legislation governed the conditions in closed juvenile institutions? What was the complaints system in such institutions? What activities and mental health support, including drug rehabilitation programmes, were offered to detained juveniles? What training was provided to staff at juvenile institutions?
There were reports of poor conditions in closed social care homes for elderly people and persons with disabilities. How was the running of such institutions governed? What plans were there to improve activities offered to institutionalised persons? These institutions were reportedly understaffed, and employment training and outdoor exercise was reportedly not offered in some institutions. Physical restraints were reportedly not always used as a means of last resort in psychiatric hospitals. The Committee was not in favour of medical restraints. How were staff members trained to avoid using restraints? How many times were restraints used last year and what was the maximum length that they could be used for?
Solitary confinement in Slovenia could be applied for a longer period than specified in the Mandela Rules. What was the maximum length that solitary confinement could be applied for? How many times had juveniles been placed in solitary confinement in the last year? Was there an appeals system for disciplinary sanctions? What was the system of disciplinary punishment in juvenile detention centres and psychiatric institutions? How many involuntary admissions into psychiatric institutions had been conducted in the last year? There were reports that detained people faced reprisals for complaining about their treatment. What training was provided to institutional staff on human rights and the Istanbul Protocol?
Other Committee Experts asked questions on plans to remove the statute of limitations on cases involving torture committed by State agents; rules regulating recording of police interrogations; and measures to improve the situation of life sentence, elderly and high security prisoners.
Responses by the Delegation
The delegation said Slovenia was faced with a disproportionate number of foreigners coming to the country, and an increasing number of crimes committed by foreigners. There had been a case where police officers did not conduct thorough individual hearings of asylum seekers due to a lack of capacity and instead conducted a group hearing. This was an isolated case. Police officers had been trained on international standards regarding asylum processing. There had been over 55,000 illegal border crossings this year into Slovenia and around 49,000 requests for international protection had been submitted.
When police decided to deport a person, they informed them of the deportation procedure in a language that they could understand. There were limitations on the capacity of interpretation staff, so the Government had proposed implementing a system of automated interpretation for asylum seekers. In 2020, some unaccompanied minors had been placed in detention that did not have natural light as a COVID-19 containment measure. Foreigners could no longer be placed in such facilities. Over 51,000 metres of fencing on the border with Croatia had been removed. The removal process was continuing gradually.
The Ombudsperson issued recommendations concerning facilities for asylum seekers that the Government had considered. To address overcrowding in these facilities, rooms dedicated to joint activities had been transformed into accommodation facilities and container rooms with windows had been installed. Currently, asylum facilities were below capacity, and the Government had rented land around asylum centres to facilitate further expansion. In October this year, a decree was adopted on care for unaccompanied minors that established a dedicated reception facility and accommodation centres. It would enter into force by February 2024. Health checks and 24-hour care would be provided for unaccompanied minors in the facilities. Specialised funding would be devoted to this scheme in 2024, including for interpretation staff. Staff members at asylum centres were provided with various training courses from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the State, including on the identification of vulnerable groups.
The “complex migration emergencies” referred to in legislation were challenges that exceeded the mandates of specific ministries. Parliament decided whether to declare such emergencies. The legislation did not affect asylum rights; foreigners could enter Slovenia under it. The State was required to assess the possibility of ill-treatment of migrants in their home country and respect the principle of non-refoulement. Extradition could only occur if the destination country was verified and could accept the person. Unaccompanied minors and persons with serious medical conditions were not sent back.
Slovenia had a small number of stateless persons. Slovenia planned to ratify the 1961 Statelessness Convention. All stateless persons had the right to apply for legal statelessness status in Slovenia.
The delegation said Slovenia had assumed full responsibility for the violation of human rights caused by the erasure of citizens of the former Yugoslavia. Legislation had been implemented to formalise these citizens’ registration. The Constitutional Court was reviewing the legal status of this legislation, and the Government would fully respect its decisions. The former President had issued a public apology related to the erasure in 2022 and the Government had also opened a memorial space for the erased. Information campaigns had been carried out in the four languages of the former Yugoslavia on registration. All those interested in returning to Slovenia had the right to apply for residency. All relevant persons also had the right to apply for compensation. All persons had the ability to go to court to obtain further compensation. The State provided compensation in areas such as education, housing and health. Over 26 million euros had been paid in compensation thus far. The Government had convened two meetings with representatives of the erased and had extended an invitation to all persons who claimed that they had been erased to apply for registration and compensation.
The Human Rights Ombudsman had constitutional ranking and was an independent institution. It proposed its budget independently, which the Government subsequently approved. Recently, public debate on amendments to the Act on the Ombudsman had concluded. Amendments would establish bodies within the Ombudsman for the protection of children and persons with disabilities. The national preventive mechanism had been developed in 2006. The Ombudsman cooperated with non-governmental organizations on the prevention of torture. In 2017, the Ombudsman had 40 staff, and 51 in 2022. In 2019, its budget was 2.8 million euros; it was now over four million. Three international conventions were adopted this year based on recommendations from the Ombudsman. Centres for children and adolescents cooperated with the Ombudsman to implement a complaints system and support detainees. The Ombudsman also monitored the situation in psychiatric hospitals and prepared regular reports on the situation. Centres for drug rehabilitation had been established within such institutions after a recommendation from the Ombudsman.
In 2021, police were present at approximately 850 protests against COVID-19 measures. Most protests were peaceful, but when they were violent, the police responded appropriately to ensure public safety. In one case, police had used tear gas and water cannons. Investigations had been carried out into the use of tear gas and water cannons, including by a team within the Prosecutor’s Office.
Persons were informed of their Miranda rights orally or in writing within three to six hours, depending on the severity of the offence. The Miranda warning system had existed in Slovenia since 1989. If persons had no financial means to appoint a lawyer, the police were required to appoint a lawyer at the State’s expense. Certain aspects of the Mendez Principles were taken into account. The time of deprivation of liberty, the arresting officer and the health conditions of the detainees were recorded by the police. A list of ex-officio lawyers was located in the room where interrogations were carried out. Access to a lawyer was made possible from the time when the person was brought to a police station. Interrogations were suspended until the lawyer arrived at the facility or until a period that the police specified had elapsed, which could be no shorter than two hours. There was no need to record police interrogations as they were not considered by courts. The court only considered court interrogations.
Police stations had premises dedicated to detention for up to six hours and other premises for 24-hour detention. The conditions in 24-hour detention cells were better than in shorter detention facilities. Water was provided in short-term detention, and if security circumstances allowed, a space for physical exercise was also provided. The police detained around 8,000 people a year. There were seven attempted suicides in 2017 and eight in 2018, but all suicide attempts had been prevented. A training course had been developed to help police recognise and reduce risks of suicide.
There had only been two cases where a taser had been used since 2018, when the use of tasers was regulated. All officers who used tasers had personally experienced the pain caused by tasers. Police could only use tasers when cameras were recording their actions. All police personnel were trained periodically in the use of coercive measures. Training addressed the Istanbul Protocol.
Slovenia was promoting alternatives to detention and non-custodial means. Conditional releases had doubled in three years. The State was currently studying the feasibility of electronic monitoring.
Until 2009, prisons had their own psychiatrists and doctors, but after that year, public hospitals became responsible for health care services for prisons. Each prison needed to provide basic health care and dental services. Doctors documented prisoners’ injuries. Health care staff were obliged to report if they suspected that prisoners had been injured by prison staff. Currently, prisons were at 119 per cent occupancy and had a lack of staff. The Government was promoting openings at detention facilities and discussing best practices for recruitment with other prison administrations.
Non-disciplinary, de-escalating measures were used within prisons when possible. Disciplinary measures implemented by staff included solitary confinement for up to 21 days with the right to work or 14 days without the right to work. Minors were placed in special premises without the right to work for up to three days. Complaints against disciplinary decisions stayed the implementation of the measures. A total of 15 solitary confinement decisions were issued last year, 10 of which had been suspended. Detainees had 24 hours to submit complaints. Prison staff were trained on human rights provisions in national and international legislation. The Human Rights Ombudsman was actively involved in training.
Special premises were not provided for life sentence prisoners, as there had not been a single person sentenced to life imprisonment since the system was introduced in 2008. The State provided persons with disabilities in detention with assistance in carrying out basic tasks. Five staff at the largest State prison had received training in providing social care at home. A restrictive regime could be imposed against prisoners who posed threats to others for a maximum of three months. The State made efforts to address reasons for the implementation of such regimes. This year, there had been 190 prisoners subjected to such regimes. Prisoners had the right to file a complaint with the Director-General of the prison administration, and with the Ministry of Justice if they did not receive a reply. Medical care for all prisoners was paid for by the State budget.
The Criminal Code had been amended to introduce the concept of coercion. Since the amendment, the police had recorded a slight increase in reports of rape. State prosecutors were required to investigate ex-officio acts of rape as soon as they were reported. The Ministry of Justice was currently considering amendments to the Criminal Code to introduce a specific offence of “femicide”. Murders based on the infringement of equality were currently punished with up to 30 years imprisonment. Last year, the Government had opened a special house for child victims of sexual crimes, at which children benefitted from psychosocial and legal help and other services. This service could be extended to adult victims of sexual crimes.
The State planned to set up a special body to address family violence and violence against women. It planned to compile harmonised data on domestic violence from medical services. Training on domestic violence and gender-based violence was provided regularly to all relevant stakeholders in collaboration with non-governmental organizations. Interrogations of children in children’s houses were used as proof in courts. Children were only interrogated once. In July this year, an amendment to the Victims’ Compensation Act was passed, which allowed for compensation for the violation of sexual integrity. The Criminal Procedure Act was amended to require authorities to notify minors of their right to free legal aid in their mother tongue. Obligatory training was provided to all judicial staff dealing with minors.
The State was introducing community services to support elderly people to stay at home for as long as possible. A list of short and long-term measures to bolster social care had been devised. The Government had revised norms regarding staffing in care homes, which would increase staffing in such homes by over 2,000 persons by 2030. It was also co-financing technological services to alleviate the burden on care staff and conducting regular consultations with stakeholders in the care sector. Training of care staff to prevent violence against older persons was a priority, and special rules for such training were being devised. A description of the complaints’ procedure needed to be displayed in care homes.
Restraint belts were a measure of last resort in psychiatric facilities. Staff needed to be trained to implement this measure. A psychiatric unit within the Government trained medical staff on de-escalation techniques. Persons who used restraint measures were required to notify the mental health advocate about the use of the measure within 24 hours. The national preventive mechanism visited two to three psychiatric hospitals per year. It had issued recommendations regarding intensifying training and strengthening the complaints procedure that the Government was implementing. In 2022, there were 10,065 admissions to psychiatric hospitals.
For criminal offences for which imprisonment for up to 10 years could be imposed, the statute of limitations was 20 years. Offences for officials had a statute of limitations of 30 years. The Government was planning to remove the statute of limitations on offences of torture committed by State officials.
The Government dedicated more than six million euros each year to supporting Roma settlements. One community had been awarded as a role model for integration of the Roma community. The situation was not ideal everywhere, however. Roma communities were not always accepted by local communities. The Government was working on strengthening its support policies for Roma communities.
Questions by Committee Experts
TODD BUCHWALD, Committee Expert and Country Co-Rapporteur, asked whether information obtained through police interrogations could be used against other persons. Could interrogated persons access and use recordings of interrogations? Did police report complaints of ill-treatment to the Special Prosecutor’s Office? There were reports that police sometimes conducted body searches of persons of the opposite sex. Were there measures to prevent this? If a “complex migration crisis” was enforced, how did the police decide whether migrants were at risk of torture? How did the right of appeal work if it did not have suspensive effect in such circumstances?
How well were measures to address trafficking in persons working? How many cases had been investigated, prosecuted and convicted? Were State agents being sufficiently trained to recognise and prevent trafficking?
The definition of torture contained in State legislation differed from the Convention in that the reasons for torture were not specified. Why did this difference exist? The minimum sentence for torture of one year imprisonment seemed too light. What were the grounds for this penalty? Legislation prohibited the collection of personal data. Such data was important for identifying issues, including related to torture. Would the State reconsider this legislation?
ILVIJA PUCE, Committee Expert and Country Co-Rapporteur, said medical personnel were obliged to report injuries of detainees to police. Did the police investigate such injuries or was it another independent body? How many investigations into violence and ill-treatment by staff had been carried out? How many victims of violent crimes had benefitted from the Victim Compensation Act? It was welcome that the requirement of citizenship had been removed from this Act. Were there drug and alcohol rehabilitation programmes for detained minors? How were instances of application of restraints in psychiatric institutions recorded and followed-up on? What plans were in place to deal with overcrowding in one psychiatric institution?
Another Committee Expert welcomed that the State was considering removing the statute of limitations for acts of torture committed by State agents, asking about the rules governing whether detained persons could be released after questioning.
Responses by the Delegation
The delegation said Slovenian legislation on torture did specify reasons for the act of torture that appeared to comply with the Convention. The Criminal Code was being revised and the State would look at the reasons to verify the definition of torture was similar to that in the Convention. Thirty years imprisonment was the maximum sentence typically imposed in the Slovenian criminal system.
The State would consider the proposal to implement recording of interrogations to ensure that there was no mistreatment. Body searches that were carried out for security purposes could be performed by a police officer of the opposite sex in case it could not be delayed.
In 2018, the State dealt with 79 cases of trafficking in persons, and the number had gradually decreased since then to eight cases in 2022. None of the cases investigated in 2022 had ended in convictions.
A special independent unit had been established within the Prosecutor’s Office to investigate alleged offences by police officers. In 2022, there were 40 indictments, out of which 16 people were convicted. These did not relate to torture. Offences committed while police members were off duty were also investigated.
Slovenia had a list of safe countries for deportation, which included all neighbouring countries and members of the European Union. After the entry of migrants, decisions on deportation were adopted as soon as possible. Migrants had the possibility to lodge complaints against deportations from neighbouring countries.
Disaggregated data was not collected by the State, except in fields concerning assistance to foreigners. Questions on national affiliation were deleted from the Census as the Ombudsperson had raised concerns that they could give rise to discrimination. Disaggregated data could only be collected if it was destroyed immediately after it was used for statistical purposes.
The act on compensation for victims had been implemented since 2005. Compensation could be given for areas such as physical injuries, funeral services and destruction of personal devices. Two claims for compensation had been received from foreigners. The State had not decided on these yet.
In all prisons, there were programmes for drug and alcohol addictions that were carried out in cooperation with non-governmental organizations.
The Mental Health Act regulated the recording of restraint measures. Data on the use of restraints was collected in anonymised form. Persons in closed psychiatric hospitals were represented by the mental health advocate. Persons in such hospitals were provided with brochures informing them of their right to complain. In one hospital where there were complaints of ill-treatment by staff, the Government replaced the members of the hospital board in response. The State was exerting efforts to fill gaps in staffing in psychiatric institutions.
The Government was organising an excursion for stakeholders to the Pusča Roma settlement, which was recognised by the European Union as an example of a well-integrated Roma community. In the Pusča settlement, education institutions were set up over 60 years ago that integrated Roma and non-Roma children. Additional financing was required in other communities to strengthen the integration of the Roma. There were cultural, employment and other support programmes in place for the Roma. An entrepreneurship programme for the Roma would be launched next year.
CLAUDE HELLER, Committee Chair, thanked the delegation for the truly constructive dialogue. The Committee would prepare concluding observations based on the dialogue that it believed could be achieved within one year. The Committee aimed to engage in an ongoing dialogue with the State party based on the key concerns voiced by the Committee.
DOMINIKA ŠVARC PIPAN, Minister of Justice of Slovenia and head of the delegation, thanked the Committee members for their constructive questions, advice and recommendations. The dialogue had been of great significance for the further implementation of the Convention in Slovenia. The State party intended to strengthen outcomes in this regard for the benefit of all people whom it protected.
Produced by the United Nations Information Service in Geneva for use of the media;
not an official record. English and French versions of our releases are different as they are the product of two separate coverage teams that work independently.