Interior minister candidate plans to rebuild police’s reputation

Ljubljana – Tatjana Bobnar, the candidate for interior minister, presented her vision for the ministry at the relevant parliamentary committee on Monday, stressing efforts to restore trust in police work, independence and depoliticisation. She plans to pay special attention to femicide, and replace border fence with video surveillance.

In her presentation, the former police commissioner, who was endorsed in a 9:4 vote, pointed to her 29-year career in the police force. She said in the last couple of years, police’s reputation had been tarnished with the ministry’s denial of expert views, and brutal and fierce rhetoric.

She said she had accepted the candidacy for minister to rebuild the reputation and trust in police.

“I will perform the ministerial tasks as an expert and will never urge police officers on Twitter to be rough or use disproportionate practices but I will always call for respecting human rights,” she said.

Bobnar plans to turn what she believes has become a repressive organisation into a service for the people that will respect human rights and freedoms.

She believes events like the sealing off of Republic Square, unreasonable punishing of readers of constitution, Maribor students and the 5 October events, when police used disproportionate repressive means against protesters, may never happen again. “A peaceful protest will never be a crime again,” she said.

The police force is a service to citizens, and should help them with their day-to-day problems, especially during an epidemic. “Politics may never walk into the police force so vehemently and use it to raise its hand over its people.”

She announced changes to the appointment of police commissioner, saying the commissioner should be appointed and dismissed based on the opinion of an expert commission.

Chief of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) can only be a person for whom it could be expected based on previous work to be professional, honest, diligent, and mindful of the reputation, legitimacy of work and autonomy of the NBI, she said, adding that internal overhaul of the NBI should also be considered.

Bobnar believes chiefs of police departments should also have terms, while the state prosecution, not the ministry, should lead the pre-trial procedure.

In light of recent cases of domestic violence and femicides in Slovenia, she also plans to pay special attention to this issue. Systemic approach is needed towards perpetrators and victims need to receive aid, she stressed.

She is in favour of electronic bracelets for those who have caused domestic violence and have restraining orders.

Turning to migrations, she said asylum requests should be processed in foreseeable time and human rights respected. The task of police is to prevent illegal migration and discover all types of cross-border crime.

The razor wire should be removed from the southern border, “so that nobody will ever die again on this route”. She would replace the wire with cameras and drones, and include the civil society, NGOs and local communities into tackling the issue of migration.

In traffic, she advocates zero tolerance to alcohol, as alcohol and speeding are still the main causes for lower traffic safety. She would introduce more oversight on motorways but not with motorway police.

Bonar said she supported both police trade unions, noting that constructive dialogue was essential for development of police. She would like fresh negotiations on the career system in the police.