Local authorities obstruct Roma in obtaining documents in Slovenia

A Romani man faces possible deportation because local authorities have refused to assist him in obtaining documents relevant for his residence permit application. Mr Sead Alimanović, a Romani man originally from Bosnia, has lived in Ljubljana, Slovenia, since 1985, with a break from 1992 to 1997, when he was in Germany. For eleven years, he has been legally married to a Slovene citizen, and their three children also all have Slovene citizenship. However, as of April 19, 2001, Mr Alimanović had been unable to obtain a residence permit in Slovenia, due to restrictive policies of the Slovene authorities pertaining to the status of foreigners and citizenship procedures.

Mr Alimanović told the ERRC on March 21, 2001, that his temporary visa had expired on February 17. On February 2, 2001, he had applied for a three-year residence permit pursuant to Article 37 of the Slovenian Aliens Act of 1999. According to this article, foreigners who are immediate family members of Slovene citizens have the right to apply for three-year residence permits, with the possibility of later extension. On March 12, however, he received a letter from the Office for Passports and Foreigners of the Sector for Administrative Internal Affairs of the Republic of Slovenia, Administrative Unit Ljubljana, where he had applied for the visa, informing him that they required an additional document proving that he has housing in Slovenia.

Mr Alimanović subsequently went to the offices of the Housing Fund of Ljubljana Municipalities on March 21. When he asked for a certificate proving that he has housing in Slovenia, he was refused by the administrator in charge of the Koželjeva street, where Mr Alimanović lives, on grounds that he had moved into his current flat by force. The same office issues bills to the Alimanović family at the same address. Mr Alimanović had once already appealed in writing to the same office for this document, in May 2000, and was refused with the same argument. Mr Alimanović claims that he turned an abandoned toilet cabin into a flat, and that as there was no such flat on that location before, he could not have moved in by force in any case.

This state of affairs has serious negative consequences for Mr Alimanović. His father died recently, in Bosnia, and Mr Alimanović was unable to attend the funeral because of the unsolved visa situation - if he had left the country, he would likely not have been able to return to Slovenia, as Bosnian citizens must obtain visas before entering Slovenia. Moreover, Mr Alimanović had been stopped by the police in January 2001, and officers had asked to see his documents. He showed them his driver’s licence, and a certificate issued by the Office for Administrative Internal Affairs of the Ministry of Interior proving that he is the carrier of a valid temporary six-month visa for Slovenia. Mr Alimanović did not have his Bosnian passport with him. For not having a passport with him, the police fined him 10,000 Slovene tolars (approximately 45 euros). Mr Alimanović told the ERRC he was concerned that, if authorities persist in refusing to issue him a residence certificate, he will be unable to obtain a new visa and will therefore be forced to leave Slovenia, and will be forcibly separated from his wife and children. On March 26, Mr Alimanović filed an appeal with the Office for Passports and Foreigners, explaining that he has been unable to obtain a document proving that he has housing in Slovenia. On March 29, the ERRC sent a letter of concern to the same office, as well as to the Housing Fund indicating concerns that Slovenia risks contravening several provisions of the European Convention on Human Rights by continuing to deny Mr Ali-manović a residence permit. As of April 18, the ERRC had received no response to the letter.

ERRC field research in Slovenia in February 2001 documented a number of cases similar to that of Mr Alimanović - of Roma who are originally from other former Yugoslav republics, who lived in Slovenia when the country was a part of the Yugoslav federation, and who lost the right to residence when Slovenia became independent in 1991. Currently, it is estimated that at least 75% of such Roma do not have Slovene citizenship or legal residence in Slovenia. In addition, numerous Roma testified to the ERRC about cases in which they felt they were singled out by the police because they looked Romani, and arbitrarily charged for offences related to a lack of adequate documents.

(ERRC)

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