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This year, Slovenian police have dealt with more than 40,000 persons who crossed the border illegally. This is why, on 27 September 2023, the Director of the Uniformed Police Directorate at the General Police Directorate, Marko Gašperlin, presented in detail the activities of the police in preventing unauthorised entry into Slovenia and managing the increased migration flow.

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As Gašperlin pointed out in today's press release, this morning police officers have stepped up their activities in some of the most critical parts of the border, especially with Croatia: "At the moment, it is the area of the Novo mesto and Koper police directorates, where police data and analyses show the highest pressure. We would like to stress that we have not reintroduced border controls but rather stepped up compensatory measures that the police have been implementing in border areas all along. Our activities will continue to be focused on ensuring security at internal borders, and in particular on detecting and apprehending smugglers and uncovering other cross-border crime, thus ensuring the safety of all Slovenian citizens."

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New work strategy following the end of systematic border checks has already led to the apprehension of 275 migrant smugglers this year

He said that the Slovenian police had thoroughly prepared for Croatia's entry into the Schengen area and had devised a new organisational structure for this purpose. Systematic border checks, which have been abolished with Croatia's entry into the Schengen area, are being replaced by so-called compensatory measures, in line with the European and national legislation. "Our results in controlling irregular migration indicate that the new organisation is working. So far this year, the police have apprehended over 41,700 foreign nationals after they crossed the border illegally and 275 perpetrators of the offence of illegal crossing of the state border or territory under Article 308 of the Criminal Code (i.e. people smuggling)."

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"The problem is that more than 98% of foreigners apprehended during the police procedure express an intention to apply for international protection, so they are referred to further asylum procedures. If they are re-arrested after they have left the Asylum Centre voluntarily, they again express an intention to apply for international protection and the police have no choice but to return them to the Asylum Centre. This problem is encountered by all the member states that are transit countries and where making an application for international protection is simply a way of avoiding return procedures under bilateral agreements or to the country of origin. Unfortunately, this is currently possible under EU law, which is why we are all the more eager to see the adoption of the EU Migration Pact, which is in the process of being adopted by the EU institutions," explained Mr Gašperlin.

Irregular migration is on the rise, not only in Slovenia but in the EU as a whole

The fact is that the number of unauthorised border crossings in the EU in general, and on the Western Balkan route in particular, has been increasing this year. "We are therefore working at all levels within the EU to improve this situation, and the Slovenian police are ready to actively assist, or are already doing so: until recently, in the framework of bilateral cooperation with North Macedonia, by deploying Slovenian police officers in Frontex missions, and we have already offered this kind of assistance to Croatia. There are also specific problems in the Western Balkan region that further generate migration, such as the visa regime of Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, which is not aligned with that of the European Union and which is being exploited by both criminal groups and migrants, for example from Turkey, Russia, China, and until recently also Cuba, Burundi and Tunisia."

We have stepped up measures in the most critical border areas, not re-introduced border controls

Mr Gašperlin added that as a result of these circumstances the Slovenian police had further strengthened compensatory measures, especially along the border with Croatia, but also with Hungary. He said that, within the scope of their powers, the police have stepped up surveillance of the most critical parts of the border, taking into account the trends, results of risk analyses and available human resources.

Specifically, the police have intensified their work in several locations in the areas of the Novo mesto and Koper police directorates, where data and analyses show the highest pressure. At certain locations, police activities are carried out 24 hours a day, with the number and equipment of police officers being continuously adjusted to security risk assessments. We have also intensified 'undercover civilian' controls of cross-border traffic with the aim of detecting organised transport of foreigners. We cooperate closely with all the neighbouring countries in so-called mixed police patrols and enhanced controls.