Constitutional Court judge nominee denies claim he spoke of shooting migrants

Ljubljana – Rok Svetlič, a nominee for a Constitutional Court judge, presented his bid at the Presidential Palace on Tuesday, rejecting claims that he had spoken about shooting migrants at a consultation on migration and the foreigners act in the summer of 2020. He also said no party, guild or university department was behind his bid.

He thus responded to a Twitter post by Saša Zagorc, a professor at the Ljubljana Faculty of Law, in which he said that at the consultation in 2020 Svetlič said that “if the state does not want to remain post-modernist soft, it must, as a last resort, shoot migrants illegally crossing its borders in order to protect its symbolic role as master”.

“I have never uttered these words or anything similar not at that consultation or anywhere else,” Svetlič stressed today. He added he had also never published anything like that. He said what he said at the consultation was the opposite: “Every country, even a democratic one, runs the risk of using force, including weapons, in the event of a sudden escalation of the situation, when the state authorities are no longer able to cope with the situation.”

“I was talking about catastrophic scenarios, not legitimising them, let alone calling for a catastrophic situation,” he said, adding that he had called for efforts to avoid such situations. “I firmly believe that if the first shot is fired at our border, that would mean the end of the world as know it.”

He said many people had confirmed he had not made the controversial statement at the consultation. He said he could not shake the feeling that this story had been launched to affect “the chances of my election”.

Some deputy groups have already announced they would not back his candidacy, but Svetlič said he would send MPs a letter today that might change their perspective.

“I am a person who has nobody behind him. Not a party, not a guild, not a university department and not a Twitter account. I do what I think is right and I am often lonely doing it,” he said.

If elected Constitutional Court judge he would like to “contribute to ensuring that every person, especially those at the bottom of society, can believe that they have a reliable ally in Slovenian law”.

Svetlič is an associate professor on philosophy of law who teaches at two private Slovenian law schools, the Alma Mater Europaea and the European Law School. He is also the chair of the Legal Institute at the Science and Research Centre Koper.

He was nominated by President Borut Pahor in what was his fourth attempt to find a candidate for the post currently held by Dunja Jadek Pensa, whose term ended last July but who is staying on until a new judge is appointed.

The last candidate, Janez Kranjc, fell one vote short this July, Anže Erbežnik got one vote less than Kranjc in October 2020, and the first-round candidate, Andraž Teršek, got only 42 votes in the 90-member National Assembly in June 2020.

The National Assembly is to vote on Svetlič’s appointment at a regular session next week after his bid is discussed by the parliamentary Credentials and Privileges Commission on Wednesday.