The Slovenia Times

Law giving army police powers delayed by referendum petition


A student radio station lodged a referendum motion that could delay implementation by several weeks or more, potentially causing problems for the government.

The new law is currently not needed but "the situation could change, which could cause problems," commented Defence Minister Andreja Katič.

The statement comes after the Ljubljana-based Radio Študent submitted to parliament about 3,000 voter signatures against amendments to the defence act, in what is the first stage of a referendum process.

If the motion is found to have been submitted in accordance with the law, the proponents will have 35 days to collect 40,000 verified voter signatures required to call a referendum. During this time the challenged law cannot take effect.

The challenged legislation would grant the army limited police powers and was adopted last week in a bid to help the overstretched police force cope with the inflow of refugees.

Hundreds of soldiers are on the ground every day helping the police, but they cannot engage in crowd control or the processing of refugees, powers that they could be granted for a limited time under the amendments to the defence act.

Radio Študent has billed its campaign as a protest against the militarisation of Slovenia, which it says is a country in whose founding peace movements and the civil society played an instrumental role.

But politicians counter that the manoeuvre will now make it difficult to help the police.

Parliament Speaker Milan Brglez said he regretted the move, whose only consequence would be the inability to implement a law designed to reduce the burden on the police force.

Defence Minister Katič told the STA that the authorities would now have to find a different way to help the police. "The government has a set of measures planned...Now one of these measures is probably off the table."

The referendum motion was also met with criticism from the parliamentary parties, with the exception of the United Left (ZL), which had voted against the amendments and now welcomed the prospect of a referendum.

The ruling Modern Centre Party (SMC) labelled the motion as "unpatriotic", and "irresponsible". The Democrats (SDS), the main opposition party, said it was "destructive".


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