Slovenia

Slovenia is party to the 1954, but not the 1961 Convention nor the Council of Europe statelessness instruments. Statelessness can be identified through administrative procedures for the acquisition of a residence permit or citizenship, leading to different rights depending on the status granted and prescribed conditions. However, there is no specific ‘stateless’ protection status and the definition of a stateless person in Slovenian law is narrower than the 1954 Convention. There is no obligation on the authorities to consider a claim of statelessness, the burden of proof is on the applicant and there is no legal aid except for judicial review. A grant of ‘permission to stay’, for example, entails access to emergency healthcare, primary education and basic financial assistance only.

There are some gaps in protections against arbitrary detention. Under the Slovenian Constitution a proportionality test must be carried out when deciding to detain, but in practice, a country of removal may not be identified prior to detaining, and alternatives to detention are not routinely considered. There are provisions in nationality law to prevent statelessness in the case of foundlings, adopted children and most children born to Slovenian parents abroad. But the acquisition of nationality at birth by children born in Slovenia who would otherwise be stateless depends on the status of the parents, who must be stateless or unknown. No current legal or practical barriers to birth registration were identified.   

Last updated: 
Dec 2017
Next scheduled update: 
Dec 2018
Country expert(s): 

Katarina Vučko, The Peace Institute

ASSESSMENT KEY

++POSITIVE
+ SOMEWHAT POSITIVE
+-POSITIVE and NEGATIVE
- SOMEWHAT NEGATIVE
--NEGATIVE

ADDITIONAL INFO

-NORMS & GOOD PRACTICE

 

International and Regional Instruments

Assesses whether countries are state party to the relevant international and regional instruments, including whether reservations have an impact on statelessness, and whether instruments are incorporated into domestic law. The four core statelessness treaties (1954 Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons; 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness; European Convention on Nationality; Council of Europe Convention on the Avoidance of Statelessness in Relation to State Succession) carry more weight than other relevant human rights instruments in the assessment.

Slovenia is state party to only one of the core statelessness conventions, the 1954 Convention. It is not party to the 1961 Convention, nor to the European Convention on Nationality, or the Convention on the Avoidance of Statelessness in Relation to State Succession. Slovenia is party to all other relevant human rights treaties without reservations impacting on statelessness and is bound by the EU Returns Directive.

  • Slovenia is party to the 1954 Convention with no reservations and it has direct effect.
  • Slovenia is not state party to the 1961 Convention.
  • Slovenia is not state party to the European Convention on Nationality nor to the Convention on the Avoidance of Statelessness in Relation to State Succession.
  • Slovenia has signed and ratified all other relevant international and regional human rights treaties, and is bound by the European Union (EU) Returns Directive. Its reservation to the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Racial Discrimination does not have direct impact on statelessness.

Statelessness Population Data

Examines the availability and sources of disaggregated population data on statelessness. Provides recent figures and assesses reliability of measures countries have in place to count stateless persons, including in the census, population registries and migration databases. Notes whether statelessness has been mapped in the country and whether there are sufficient measures in place to count stateless persons in detention.

There is little available data on the stateless population in Slovenia. The last census did collect some unpublished data on people of ‘unknown citizenship’, but it is unclear who is included in this category. The Ministry of Interior collects data on people claiming statelessness during immigration, international protection, and naturalisation procedures, though there are overlapping categories. There has been no mapping study of the stateless population in Slovenia. Some data is collected on stateless people held in detention, but this is not published.

  • The National Statistical Office of Slovenia does not collect data on stateless people. The category of 'unknown citizenship' was included in the last census questionnaire but it was not included in the official census report. The census fieldwork questionnaires returned a figure of 2,527 people of ‘unknown citizenship’, but it is not clear whether this figure represents stateless people and/or people who did not answer the question.
  • The Ministry of Interior collects data on peopleclaiming statelessness during immigration, asylum and naturalisation procedures (although it also has a separate category of 'unknown citizenship'). Between 2009-2013, five people received citizenship through facilitated naturalisation for stateless people; a permanent residence permit was issued to 13 stateless people under the ‘Aliens Act’ in this period; and one stateless person was granted international protection. Between 2013-2016, five asylum seekers with ‘unknown nationality’ were recorded.
  • In 2016, UNHCR noted that ‘a certain group lost their legal status following independence in 1991’, but states that the number of stateless people in Slovenia is yet unknown.
  • Studies of statelessness in Slovenia have been carried out by NGOs and academics, concluding that the lack of reliable data is a major problem, with particular population groups including Roma and ‘erased persons’, who lost their legal status after Slovenian independence, being at particular risk of statelessness, and that government figures are very likely to be an underrepresentation.
  • The ‘Centre for Foreigners’ in Slovenia records the number of stateless people and people of ‘unknown citizenship’ in detention, and provided this on request, but it does not routinely publish this data.
  • In June 2017, one stateless person and one person of unknown citizenship were being held in the ‘Centre for Foreigners’; between 2012-2017, a total of three stateless people and two people with unknown citizenship had been detained according to the centre. No further data was available.

Statelessness Determination and Status

Identifies whether countries have a dedicated statelessness determination (SDP) procedure; or, if not, whether there are other procedures or mechanisms by which statelessness can be identified and status determined. Countries are subdivided in four groups to enable comparison between those with an SDP in place (Group 1), those with other administrative procedures (Group 2), those with a status but no clear mechanism (Group 3), and those without any status or mechanism (Group 4). Where a procedure exists, this is assessed against good practice, and the rights granted to recognised stateless people are examined.

Slovenia does not have a dedicated statelessness determination procedure (SDP), but there are other administrative procedures through which statelessness can be identified (for example an application for residence, international protection or naturalisation), so it falls within Group 2. However, there is no dedicated stateless status and no obligation in law to consider a claim of statelessness, nor clear instructions, guidance or training for officials conducting the assessment. The definition of a stateless person in Slovenian law is narrower than the 1954 Convention. The burden of proof is on the applicant, the standard of proof is very high, and legal aid is only available for judicial review. Rights conferred on a stateless person depend on their eligibility for residence or citizenship, and those with ‘permission to stay’, for example, have access only to emergency healthcare, education and basic financial assistance.

  • There is no dedicated SDP, but statelessness can be identified through other administrative procedures.
  • Statelessness can be identified through procedures within the ‘Aliens Act’ for receiving temporary or permanent residence, in international protection procedures, or under the ‘Citizenship Act’ if applying for citizenship as a stateless person.
  • If someone claims to be stateless, the authorities may examine possible connections to specific countries with a view to ascertaining whether citizenship is held.
  • The assessment takes place at local level and there is no obligation in law to consider a claim for statelessness, but the authorities may do so if it is relevant.
  • There are no clear instructions on how to make a claim of statelessness.
  • There is no training for public officials or cooperation between different actors on the question of statelessness.
  • There is a definition of a stateless person in Slovenian law, but it is not fully in line with the 1954 Convention, as it refers to a ‘foreigner’ (rather than a ‘person’) who is not deemed to be a national of any country ‘in accordance with the legal acts of individual countries’, rather than the broader convention definition, ‘who is not considered as a national by any state under the operation of its law’.
  • The burden of proof lies with the applicant in the assessment of statelessness.
  • The standard of proof is 'certainty', which excludes any doubt. This is higher than in asylum procedures, where the standard is 'reasonable likelihood'.
  • There are no guidelines for decision makers.
  • There is no legal aid available during the assessment, though it is available for judicial review of the administrative decision.
  • An interview is not always offered during the process, though an applicant’s testimony can be used as evidence if there is a lack of evidence.
  • An applicant has the right to an interpreter but must cover the costs themselves.
  • Decisions are given in writing with reasons.
  • There is no dedicated stateless protection status, but a stateless person may be granted a residence permit, permission to stay, or citizenship, depending on their circumstances and if they fulfil all the conditions of the procedure.
  • Those with permission to stay have the right to emergency health care, basic financial assistance and access to primary education for minors. Those with permanent residence have almost the same rights as citizens; and those with temporary residence have less rights, such as no access to financial social assistance.

Detention

Analyses law, policy and practice relating to immigration detention generally, but focusing on protections in place to prevent the arbitrary detention of stateless people during removal and deportation procedures. Subthemes examine areas such as detention decision-making, how alternatives to detention are legislated for and implemented, procedural safeguards such as time limits, judicial oversight and effective remedies, as well as protections on release.

There are few protections against the arbitrary detention of stateless people in Slovenia. Under the Constitution a proportionality test must be carried out when deciding to detain, but in practice, a country of removal may not be identified prior to detaining, and alternatives to detention are not routinely considered, though they are set out in law as ‘more lenient measures’. There is a time limit on detention, but it can be extended even if the detainee cannot be removed through no fault of their own. Detention is only subject to independent review after the first three-month extension, and there are very limited remedies for an individual to challenge their detention. A renewable six-month permit to stay with access to some basic rights may be granted on release. 

  • Immigration detention powers are provided for in law but grounds for detention go beyond those in ECHR Art. 5(1)(f). Detention is permitted if someone is residing illegally in the country and there is a risk of absconding, or if they do not leave the country within the prescribed time and there are circumstances that prevent their deportation, or to identify a non-national.
  • The law does not require a country of removal to be identified prior to detention and alternatives are only considered after detention.
  • Statelessness is not considered a juridically relevant fact in decisions to detain and stateless people are detained in practice.
  • It is not set out in law that detention should only be used as a last resort, but under the Constitution a proportionality test must be carried out when making a decision to detain.
  • Vulnerability assessments are not prescribed by law, but vulnerability is assessed during the individual decision to detain; however, statelessness is not considered a vulnerability factor and the identification of vulnerability does not necessarily prevent detention.
  • There are no specific measures to protect stateless people who have been convicted of a criminal offence from arbitrary detention.
  • The provision for alternatives to detention exists in law - referred to as 'more lenient measures' - and may include restriction on freedom of movement, designation of place of residence, and reporting to the police. But these are only considered after the decision to detain and not prior or during the decision-making process.
  • The law does not stipulate a specific time limit or review for alternatives.
  • Detention is not a measure of last resort in practice as the authorities will first issue the detention decision and then consider alternatives. Case law shows that alternatives are not always considered in every case.
  • A maximum period of detention is set out in law (six months plus six months), but the six-month extension can be applied even where a delay to removal is through no fault of the detainee.
  • The law provides that reasons for detention are given in writing and that detainees are regularly informed about their rights and obligations, but it is not clear how this is fulfilled in practice.
  • There are periodic ex-officio reviews of detention, but the first is carried out by the Ministry of Interior only after three months; and judicial review takes place only if the detention is extended for more than three months beyond the initial six-month time limit.
  • Individuals may challenge their detention through the Administrative Court, but there is a very short deadline (three days) and no free legal aid.
  • There are no rules or guidance for the process of re-documentation or ascertaining nationality.
  • There is no state funded free legal aid to challenge detention, although there is an NGO that provides legal aid to detainees.
  • There has only been one case where a stateless person has been released from detention between 2012-2017 and issued a permission to stay and an identity card. In all other cases, stateless people released from detention have applied for international protection.
  • If removal is not possible, a person released from detention will receive permission to stay for six months (extendable) conferring the right to emergency health care, basic social security and access to primary education, though in practice most will not qualify for financial assistance if they have friends or family who can support them.
  • There is no provision in the law that cumulative time spent in detention is counted towards the maximum time limit.

Prevention and Reduction

Assesses the adequacy of safeguards in nationality laws to prevent and reduce statelessness, including protections for otherwise stateless children born on the territory or to nationals abroad, foundlings and adopted children. Examines law, policy and practice on birth registration, including access to late birth registration, and measures taken by states to promote birth registration among groups at high risk of remaining unregistered.

There are provisions in Slovenian law to prevent statelessness in the case of foundlings, most adopted children and children born abroad to Slovenian parents. However, there are significant gaps. The safeguard in nationality law to prevent statelessness among children born in Slovenia relies on the status of the parents rather than the child. The parents of a stateless child born on the territory must also be stateless (or unknown) for the child to acquire Slovenian nationality. Birth registration law and practice is generally positive and late birth registration is possible, though subject to a fine. 

  • There is a provision in law for automatic acquisition of nationality at birth by anyone born stateless on the territory to parents who are stateless or of unknown citizenship. Other children born stateless (to parents who cannot pass on their nationality) are not covered by the provisions of the law.
  • Children are not required to prove they cannot access another nationality, but the citizenship status of the parents is closely examined and there is often a presumption of citizenship, effectively leaving children at risk of statelessness.
  • There is no requirement that the parents meet a period of legal residence and there is no time limit on the child's acquisition as it is automatic.
  • Slovenia has received a number of Universal Periodic Review recommendations relating to the status of 'erased persons' and their children.
  • There is a provision in law for foundlings to automatically acquire citizenship. There is no explicit time limit although the provision refers to anyone under the age of 18.
  • There is a provision for Slovenian citizenship to be withdrawn upon the request of the parents, if, before the child’s 18th birthday, it is determined that the parents are foreign citizens. The general conditions for loss of citizenship require proof that the person has or will be granted another nationality. This should apply in the case of foundlings, but the provision on the withdrawal of citizenship of foundlings does not contain an explicit safeguard.
  • It is possible that an adopted child could lose their Slovenian nationality, though proof should be provided that the child will acquire (or already has) another nationality before it is withdrawn. The adopted child’s nationality may cease only if required by the foreign adoptive parent.
  • The law provides for acquisition of nationality by children adopted by one of its nationals.
  • The law provides that if both parents are Slovenian, the child acquires nationality automatically by descent irrespective of where they were born.
  • If only one parent is a national and the child is born abroad, the child acquires citizenship automatically at birth if the other parent is unknown or of unknown citizenship or without citizenship. Where the other parent is a foreign citizen, the child acquires nationality automatically at birth if it would otherwise be stateless.
  • The law provides that all children born in Slovenia should have access to the birth registration procedure regardless of their parents' status. There is no evidence that this is not the case in practice.
  • There are no mandatory reporting requirements that might deter families from contacting the authorities to register a birth.
  • The time limit for the declaration of a birth is 15 days. Late birth registration is possible in practice, but most babies are born in healthcare facilities, which facilitate automatic birth registration.
  • Failure to declare a birth within the time limit is punishable by a fine. Natural persons may pay a fine of 100-200 EUR and legal persons (for example, a hospital) of 1,000-4,500 EUR.
  • There is no evidence of any proactive outreach campaigns by the government to facilitate birth registration.

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