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State Border Control 8 November 2021
 

Today, 10 May 2021, Director General, Dr Anton Olaj, and Minister of the Interior, Aleš Hojs, received and addressed 21 police officers from other Member States who will assist Slovenian police in protecting the border between Slovenia and Croatia.

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Foreign police officers will provide welcome assistance to the Slovenian police

Slovenia is currently faced with circumstances that put quite a heavy load on the shoulders of the police. On the one hand, there are illegal crossings of the border, which are likely to further increase with the arrival of warmer weather, on the other hand there is the Covid-19 pandemic. Both require a higher presence of the police, at the border itself and inland, which is impossible to provide as the police are understaffed. Besides, Slovenia is about to take over the presidency of the EU Council, which will only add to the workload of the Slovenian police. The assistance of foreign police officers will therefore provide some welcome relief for Slovenian officers and help the police ensure optimal level of security for all citizens of Slovenia.

According to the Minister of the Interior, the decision to ask other Member States for assistance was not made overnight. Now that illegal migration pressure has somewhat decreased, this assistance may seem unnecessary: "But who can guarantee that we will not see a repeat of 2015 or that nothing dramatic will happen at our Schengen border this spring? It is only right to be prepared for extreme scenarios well in advance."

"The officers from the three Member States who are standing before us today and for whose presence and assistance I am sincerely grateful, will soon be joined by officers from Romania, Estonia, Hungary and possibly from some other Member States. I was pleasantly surprised to hear from other interior ministers that there is a great deal of interest among police officers to come to our country, which means that European solidarity, a willingness to help other countries, is very much alive and that a sense of connection between European countries and a common concern for the protection of our borders are at a very high level," said Minister Hojs.

Slovenian officers to be assisted in protecting the Schengen border by 21 colleagues from Poland, Lithuania and Estonia

Several contingents of police officers have arrived in Slovenia – 10 officers from Poland, 6 from Lithuania and 5 from Estonia. They will be stationed in the area of Novo mesto Police Directorate, i.e. at police stations Krško, Brežice, Metlika and Črnomelj. Foreign police officers will be deployed in Slovenia from at least 30 days up to six months, depending on the operational situation and agreements with individual Member States.

"Let me, first of all, wish you a warm welcome to Slovenia and to our police ranks. We have looked forward to your arrival, because it means reinforcements, particularly on a symbolic level. In this way we clearly show to the public how committed we are to effective protection of the external Schengen border. Migration has become the new normal in Europe. In order to successfully deal with this security, humanitarian, economic, legal and organisational issue, the Slovenian police need and welcome additional assistance. Slovenia is currently faced with circumstances that put quite a heavy load on the shoulders of the police. On the one hand, there are illegal crossings of the border, which are likely to further increase with the arrival of warmer weather, on the other hand there is the Covid-19 pandemic. Both require a higher presence of the police," said Director General of the Police.

"This is why your arrival is so important and so welcome. As a country with the Schengen border, Slovenia shares in the responsibility of creating a safe environment for all, both in the European Union Member States and beyond. We are pleased that we can count on the assistance of neighbouring countries in these endeavours. Slovenian police officers have always been devoted to their mission. They are known for their professionalism, ethics and respectful attitude towards their fellow men and their dignity, regardless of who they are. We are extremely proud of these values, and we trust that you will help us maintain and reinforce them," said Mr Olaj, before wishing the guest police officers a pleasant stay, and efficient and, above all, safe work in Slovenia.

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Deployment of foreign police officers to Slovenia is made possible by the Council decision on the stepping up of cross-border cooperation

Based on Article 17 of the Council Decision 2008/615/PNZ of 23 June 2008 on the stepping up of cross-border cooperation, particularly in combating terrorism and cross-border crime , the Ministry of the Interior asked interior ministries of other Members States for assistance in managing migration flows at the external Schengen border. The Ministry of the Interior - the Police and the Member States which had responded to the request concluded memorandums of understanding on introducing joint patrols and other joint operations aimed to manage illegal migration at the Slovenian-Croatian state border.

The memorandums are based on Article 17 of the Council decision, which stipulates as follows: in order to step up police cooperation, the competent authorities designated by the Member States may, in maintaining public order and security and preventing criminal offences, introduce joint patrols and other joint operations in which designated officers or other officials (officers) from other Member States participate in operations within a Member State's territory. Each Member State may, as a host Member State, in compliance with its own national law, and with the seconding Member State's consent, confer executive powers on the seconding Member States' officers involved in joint operations or, in so far as the host Member State's law permits, allow the seconding Member States' officers to exercise their executive powers in accordance with the seconding Member State's law. Such executive powers may be exercised only under the guidance and, as a rule, in the presence of officers from the host Member State. The seconding Member States' officers shall be subject to the host Member State's national law. The host Member State shall assume responsibility for their actions. Seconding Member States' officers involved in joint operations shall be subject to the instructions given by the host Member State's competent authority.

Seconded officers will exercise duties and powers within the Slovenian law and under the guidance and in the presence of Slovenian officers

Joint operations are conducted by the Slovenian police. Prior to the deployment of foreign police officers to Slovenia, kick-off meetings were held and foreign officers were provided with training on their rights, duties and powers (legal basis and methods of exercising powers) and were briefed about the current situation in the surveillance of the external Schengen border.

In joint patrols and other joint operations, seconded police officers will have the powers provided for in Article 17 of the Council decision and in agreements on joint operation. Foreign officers involved in joint operations in Slovenia will be allowed to do the following:

  • establish a person’s identity and stop persons who attempted to evade police checks
  • give warnings
  • issue orders
  • search for people
  • conduct security searches
  • set up roadblocks with blockade points
  • conduct searches of persons
  • seize objects
  • bring persons in

Those powers may be exercised by the seconded officers in accordance with the Slovenian law and under the guidance and in the presence of Slovenian officers.

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Foreign officers will be allowed to use restraints provided for by the Slovenian law

Under the Slovenian law, border police officers working in Slovenia may use the following restraints during joint operations:

  • instruments for handcuffing and binding
  • physical force
  • gas spray
  • baton
  • service dog
  • electrical incapacitation device

As some Member States do not allow all those restrains (such as an electrical incapacitation device) or it has been agreed that some restraints will not be used (such as a service dog), their police officers can use fewer restraints. Police officers seconded by Poland, for instance, will only be allowed to use instruments for handcuffing and binding, physical force, gas spray and a baton.

Seconded officers are also allowed to carry firearms (e.g. semi-automatic short firearms such as pistols) and ammunition, but they may use them only in self-defence.

Illegal migration in the first four months of this year

From 1 January to 30 April 2021, the police dealt with 1,642 cases of illegal crossing of the state border, half of them by Koper Police Directorate. It is evident that illegal migration is being re-routed as the numbers increased in the area of Maribor Police Directorate and decreased in the area of Novo mesto and Ljubljana Police Directorates.

During the first four months of this year, there were 206 cases of border control evasion. The number has almost doubled compared to last year, when there were 144 such cases.

Law enforcement authorities of other countries handed over 44 persons, ten of whom were Slovenian nationals, while our police handed over 970 foreign nationals to law enforcement authorities of other countries (more information in enclosed document - in Slovene only).