President and opposition party clash over pardons
Slovenian President Nataša Pirc Pusar has come under fire from the largest opposition party, which urged her to provide an explanation for pardoning three convicted people smugglers, a call that she sees as a populist attempt to score political points.
"People making profit off others' misfortune are the last deserving a pardon," Branko Grims, an MP for the Democrats (SDS), told reporters on 22 November.
He argued that Slovenia was sending out a message that "criminals who are caught will be acquitted".
The party demanded for the National Assembly to convene an emergency session to discuss presidential pardons and illegal migrations.
"At a time of heightened security risks due to an increase in illegal migrants, such pardons are unacceptable", the party said.
Pirc Musar retorted in a written response that all her pardons were in line with the law and based on a recommendation by a commission of experts, and took into account the specific circumstances of each case.
She said she followed the same principles when she most recently pardoned the Austrian citizen Ozgur Dogan, who had already served the main sentence and was left with an accessory sentence to serve.
But she stressed it was "appalling to abuse migrations and difficult personal stories for populist aims with the intention of scoring political points."
"Migrations have always been around and are here to stay, which is why it is important to tackle them responsibly and in a humane way ... Populist exploitation of migrations is divisive and damaging to the social fabric of our country, it does not contribute to lasting solutions," she said.
The president has so far decided on 27 applications for pardons, four of which she has granted and 23 she denied, her office said.
Apart from the Austrian Dogan the president has also pardoned Serbian national Nemanja Kuzmanović, Ukrainian national Valeriy Arakcheiev and Slovenian national Samo Kolić.
The SDS also took aim at the government with Grims saying the government was funding NGOs that instructed migrants about the best ways to get into the country. It removed the military and the police from the border, making it impossible to turn migrants away at the border, he said.
"Today, the police force are just a taxi service for illegal migrants, and thus violence has made its way to Ljubljana," said the MP.
He added that the government had decided to support Brussels' mandatory migrant quotas, but it should have sought the go-ahead of the National Assembly first. "That's called high treason."
The party wants the National Assembly to issue recommendations to the government to draft legislative changes to improve transparency in the implementation of legislation governing pardons by making explanations mandatory.