Police commissioner denies allegations as union complains of “purge”

Ljubljana – Police Commissioner Anton Olaj has dismissed allegations of political staffing in the force after a trade union complained that recently adopted legislation had resulted in a “purge” in the top echelons of the police force.

“I deny allegations about politicisation of the police, insinuations about ‘staffing purges’ and simplified claims about replacements across the force,” Olaj told the STA.

His statement came after the Police Trade Union of Slovenia (PSS), one of the two unions in the force, said the directors of internal units in the police as well as the commander of all police stations, more than a hundred staff in total, had received decisions that their terms have ended in line with the new law.

Olaj confirmed this was the case, noting that all this staff would stay on until selection procedures have been completed. The selection procedures and the job criteria will be prescribed by the minister at Olaj’s proposal.

The PSS said these procedures were indeed based on the new law, but they constitute a “purge” and “open the door wide to interference by politics and other interest groups” in the work of the police.

It is particularly dangerous that the minister has total discretion in determining the selection requirements for all the posts, according to the union.

The union said it would challenge certain provisions of the new law at the Constitutional Court.

When the new law was passed by the National Assembly in October, the opposition warned that it would lead to a politicisation of the police and jeopardise its independence.

Miroslav Žaberl, an expert on police powers at the Faculty of Criminal Justice and Security, said at the time that the law paved the way for a “lustration” of all police commanders, department directors and heads of internal organisational units.