Police chief says fence removal will not result in lower security

Ljubljana – New Police Commissioner Boštjan Lindav has told the STA in an interview that the police will be capable of providing security even after the fence on the border with Croatia is removed, noting that the influx of migrants in recent years has not undermined security. He added that addressing domestic violence would be another strategic priority.

Lindav, who took over as acting police chief at the beginning of June, said that after the fence had been removed, the police would rely on technical means and good cooperation with the local community to secure the southern border.

While barriers at the border with Croatia have contributed to a certain extent to diverting migration, he maintains that the use of razor wire for this purpose is inhumane.

Asked about treatment of migrants at the border, Lindav said he was convinced that Slovenian police officers had provided each asylum seeker with individual treatment, while allowing for the possibility that there were some “mistakes and shortcomings”.

He also discussed the possibility of these mistakes contributing to the systematic chain refoulement, especially in light of the testimonies of migrants being pushed back to Bosnia-Herzegovina and complaints by minors to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child that show that even vulnerable groups were not spared.

The acting police commissioner said that it was difficult to dispute this and that the team around new Interior Minister Tatjana Bobnar, the former police commissioner, was giving its best to improve the situation in this field.

Police officers have been instructed to record that they informed about their right to international protection, Lindav, said, adding that the Interior Ministry was also looking to tackle the issue of migration through a special consultative body.

This body features representatives of civil society, academics and experts in the field of migration, he noted.

Lindav agrees that the agreement on refoulement to Croatia needs to be amended, including in light of further cooperation with Croatia after its entry into the Schengen Area.

While there is no exact date on the entry, there is already a strategy in place for what to do with officers who will be relieved of the border control duties. Part of them will be assigned to police stations, he announced.

While the police have dealt with criminal acts and misdemeanours committed by migrants, “If we look at criminal acts with the worst consequences, there are usually some family ties or acquaintances involved”, Lindav said.

As many as 95% of all murders in Slovenia take place within the family or in a narrow social circle, so addressing domestic violence will be the second strategic priority of the police, right after migration.

A coordinator for domestic violence will be appointed to be in charge for drafting proposals and coordinating the uniformed and criminal police.

Lindav said that the police also worked a lot in terms of raising awareness, as victims were often manipulated and intimidated so to change their original testimonies. “If there is no report, if the victim doesn’t cooperate, it’s difficult to close the case.”

The situation is similar when it comes to reports from neighbours, who do not want to expose themselves, knowing that they will have to repeat their testimony before the investigating judge and at the main hearing.

“Unsuccessful interventions usually give wings to perpetrators,” Lindav said, noting that as many as 37% of restraining orders were ineffective. For this reason, the police are thinking about introducing electronic tagging to better enforce this measure.