the Slovenian
glasilo magazine
radio glas
info centre
who we are

Some Dimensions of Violence in Slovenia:
Interaction of Migration, Organized Crime, Civil Society Response and Institutional Violence

by Gorazd Meško, Peter Umek, Milan Pagon, Andrej Sotlar, Bojan Dobovšek, Branko Lobnikar

This paper presents four dimensions of violence related problems in contemporary Slovene society. The structure of this paper is based on a research design prepared by a group of European experts who work in a working group 3 within a COST A018 project on violence in Europe. Working group 3 deals with violence in transition which means that it focuses on problems of migration from south and east, organised crime activity, civil society responses and reaction of the state law enforcement agencies with a special attention on institutional violence towards migrants. Some preliminary results from the Slovenian study are presented in this paper.

Crime and Refugees in the First Wave of Migration to Slovenia
Slovenia is a small country with a population of about 2 million and an area of 20,256 square kilometres. It is located in Central Europe and borders on Austria, Hungary, Croatia and Italy. Until the declaration of its independence in 1991 it was one of the republics of Yugoslavia.

The Republic of Slovenia first met with a mass influx of refugees at the end of 1991, when refugees from the Republic of Croatia arrived.1 By the spring of 1992 an even flow of asylum seekers from the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina began to arrive in Slovenia. Many came to Slovenia in transit, but large numbers also remained in Slovenia. Therefore the Office for Immigration and Refugees was established by the Government of the Republic of Slovenia in July 1992 for solving the problems of refugees and persons with temporary protection, organizing accommodation and care for them, as well as for preparing migration, visa and other policies related to aliens.

The Balkan tragedy revived the concept of "temporary protection" for persons who have abandoned their homeland en masse because of war, occupation or mass violation of human rights, and who seek temporary shelter in a foreign country.

In the beginning of 1992 Slovenia received about 70.000 refugees from Former Yugoslavia who were settled in 58 refuges. A minority of them lived with their relatives or friends. In 1995, 21.500 refugees were registered to live in Slovenia. After the Dayton treaty Slovenia provided a shelter for 5500 refugees in 1996. There were about 4000 refugees in Slovenia in 1998. Problems in Kosovo caused a new wave of refugees. In this case Slovenia provided shelter for 3700 persons who fled from Kosovo. In 2002, the number of refugees in Slovenia is around 2000 persons settled in several locations (departments) of the Transient home for refugees.

Migration and crime are both extremely complex phenomena and the links between them are even more complex. Paradoxically, too often opinions on the connection reflect appalling simplifications. A number of popular notions circulate which are untendable generalisations not based on scientific research. It is necessary to examine such untested assumptions and gain a clearer picture of the nature of the relationship between migration and crime (Schmidt, Savona, 1995).

Crime and Refugees/Migrants
The goal of this survey was to determine the quantity and patterns of crime committed by refugees who came to Slovenia between 1991 and 1995.2

A vast majority of refugees were settled in 25 refugee camps all over the Republic of Slovenia. The refugees in camps are kept under restriction and they cannot always leave the camps freely. A minority of them are staying with their relatives or friends domiciled in Slovenia. The total number of refugees changed daily. There were around 18.000 refugees registered in the Republic of Slovenia in September 1995. This number has changed due to the departure of persons with temporary protection for their homeland and due to the reunification of families.

The refugees coming from Bosnia and Herzegovina include approximately 8,000 children under 18 years of age, of whom around 2,800 are under 7, and some 3,100 persons over 60 years of age. In terms of nationality, Bosnians predominate with 77 percent, 16 percent are Croats, 2 percent Serbs and 5 percent other nationalities.3

Most of the persons with temporary protection live in the capital Ljubljana (around 5,700), the municipalities of Maribor (around 1,600), Celje (around 1,100), Velenje (around 900), Jesenice (around 800), Postojna (around 700) and Škofja Loka (around 600). The crime committed by refugees forms a part of the crime committed by aliens. There are no official statistical data on crime perpetrated by refugees. All criminal suspects and criminal offences of refugees are recorded as criminal offences of aliens. Consequently we are presenting data on crime of aliens in Slovenia in 1993 and 1994.

Table 1: Suspects by citizenship4

Table 2: Suspects by citizenship5

The only source of information on crime perpetrated by refugees in Slovenia has been the Operations and Communication Centre (OCC) at the Ministry of the Interior, which also collects all police reports on aliens. All the reports on refugees were studied closely, especially those which contained data on crime. After studying the reports a databese was made for the purpose of this study. The criteria were: type of criminal offence, number of convicts, age, gender and citizenship. The results are presented below, starting with Table 3.

Table 3: Criminal offences attributed to refugees in Slovenia from 1991 to 1995

Table 4: Criminal offences committed by refugees 1992-1995

Table 5: Citizenship of refugees suspected of criminal offences in years 1992 – 1995

Table 6: Age of suspects

After studying the relatively reliable statistic data on crime of refugees we can establish that crime perpetrated by refugees presents an insignificant part of the overall crime in Slovenia. With this insight into the structure of crime we can conclude that the most concerning problem is juvenile delinquency, which represents more than 50% of all crime presumably committed by refugees. Why is that so? If we take a look at the age and gender structure of refugees in Slovenia we can quite easily see that the majority of refugees do not represent the so-called criminally inclined population. The Slovenian state is obliged to provide primary education for the refugees. Secondary school is not provided for young refugees. Consequently, juveniles are more at risk because of marginalisation and looser control.

Hypothetical Attribution of Violence:
Organized Crime as the Greatest Threat to Slovene Society?

The police reports on organised crime in the Republic of Slovenia remained statistically quite alike. The structure of criminal offences shows that some new forms of organised crime activity have been recognised. Crime is committed in a more sophisticated, more violent and more organised ways. It has to be mentioned that more and more Slovene nationals are part of associations which are led from abroad (Turkey, Bulgaria, etc.), in which the Slovene "cells" are only responsible for the execution of a certain part of the deal, most frequently the organisation and execution of logistic tasks. These characteristic are most typical for organised crime groups which are dealing with illegal drugs such as heroin on Balkan route and /or smuggling of people.

Beside the decidedly "cellular" associations we can talk about the formation of typically hierarchically organised associations, small in number but very active and dangerous. Violence is still used mostly for the settling of accounts among criminal associations members and also here the hierarchically organised associations play the leading role.

The most structured organisations were those dealing with drugs in combination with arms trading and together with racketeering or extortion. Apart from those the biggest problems are associations taking part in the organisation of illegal migrations. Also on the increase is organised theft of motor vehicles and money counterfeiting. Almost all criminal associations are dealing with various types of crime, we have experienced a very small number of specialised groups.

The perpetrators of the most serious criminal offences are often from the regions of former Yugoslavia and often hide there after they have committed serious criminal acts. It is also detected that more and more criminal groups from Slovenia have made connections with criminal groups from Bosnia and Yugoslavia. Both countries became logistic points for the transport of drugs and transport of illegal migrants because they did not regulate their visa policy with countries from the Near and Middle East.

Evidence of criminal associations penetrating various structures is demonstrable in public administration, law enforcement and the business sector. However they still do not have a lot of success, since they are mostly successful at lower levels without much competence. In the sphere of the justice system and mass media we faced not only similar attempts as the previous years but also clear penetration. The police succeeded in proving connections of officials in the regional state prosecutors offices – including a state prosecutor with an important criminal association which was dealing with aliens smuggling. Besides, the police also found reasons for suspicion in some other cases. But still in most cases we can talk about indications and not entirely reliable information.

Compared to 1999 (1109) the year 2000 was marked with the decrease of (898) 19,02 % in the number of criminal offences attributed to organised crime. Such a decrease is not a consequence of a substantial change in trends or issues but a merely a result of clearer criteria given to operational police investigators when reporting about detected criminal offences which are the result of organised crime activities. The police investigator decides upon the following criteria: hierarchic group, continious illegal operation, illegal use of violence and/or corruption. If those criteria are met then the crime is regarded as organised crime.

Very alarming is the increase in the number of illegal migrants - 35.892 which is 92% increase on 1999 (18.695). Immigrants are not limited only to the states of former Yugoslavia and Romania, but include more and more people from China, Philippines, Bangladesh, Sri 656 Criminological, Criminal, Forensic, and Environmental Aspects of Deviance Lanka and especially Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan and from Africa travelling towards the West through Slovenia. Most illegal migrants entered Slovenia from Croatia and their number increased the most - by 66%. Almost half of them originated from Iran, coming to Slovenia through Bosnia, where they arrived legally. The second most popular destination for legal entry in 2000 in this region was the Former Republic of Yugoslavia, especially for the Far-East migrants. Criminal organisations involved in this type of illegal activity, made good use of the then (in 2000) very liberal visa policy system, so we got a new form of illegal crossings. The migrants were then smuggled, in an organised way and with guides, from Bosnia-Herzegovina via Croatia to Slovenia, where immediately upon illegally crossing the green border these large groups (up to 100 people) just waited to be discovered by the police and immediately applied for asylum. After being accommodated at the Asylum Home. It was possible to continue their journey to the West. That was due to the lack of restrictions regarding their movement and leaving the Home. In this way self-organisation of the illegal crossing occurred and the leading roles started to be played by the organisers who were foreign nationals and were awaiting the decision on their asylum application. Together with their compatriots in both countries of origin and target countries they managed the organisation of illegal crossings via Slovenia. Connected with this phenomenon, we also discovered a form of money laundering by using the Western Union money transfer system. The Slovenian Government and the Ministry of the Interior reacted to this phenomenon by making the visa regime stricter and by initiating a diplomatic pressure on Bosnia-Herzegovina to introduce visas for Iranian nationals, which resulted in 50 per cent decrease in illegal crossings by Iranian nationals in the year 2001.

The smallness of Slovenia and limited possibilities of criminal associations' activities lead to strict centralisation of the most important associations, and the national origin of their members (Yugoslavia, Bosnia, Albania, etc.) is becoming an increasingly important criterion for affiliation. In the battle for criminal domination contract killings continue, especially in the capital, Ljubljana. People who order such acts are known to the police, however, it is difficult to prove anything since the contractors usually come from abroad, especially from the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.

In investigating criminal offences containing elements of violence, intensive work by the police resulted in the investigation of organised criminal activity by a group involved in blackmailing businessmen and carrying out serious criminal offences (murder, robbery, etc). The police did not, however, manage to improve the low clear-up rate for certain offences (particularly property crime). Better preparation of conditions for the use of covert measures and undercover investigation procedures resulted in the detection of more serious forms of organised crime and, at the same time, the use of fewer measures. The police detected and investigated several cases of organised drug trafficking, the smuggling of people across the state border, the forging of documents and securities, and serious cases of corruption in which officials of national bodies and local communities were involved. All available types of expert were involved in investigating the most serious criminal offences.

The number of criminal offences6 for which the police filed criminal charges increased every year. Property crime (petty burglary, concealment, fraud and arson), actual bodily harm, the abduction of juveniles, business fraud, money laundering, the passing of bad cheques, bank or credit card fraud, tax evasion, smuggling, special document forgery cases, abuse of office or authority, illegal agency, violent conduct, the illegal manufacture of and trade in weapons and explosives, and the causing of general danger increased the most. The number of drug-related criminal offences also continued to rise.

According to police assessments, 898 (1,134) criminal offences were attributed to organised crime. In comparison with the previous years, several serious forms of this type of Gorazd Meško, Peter Umek, Milan Pagon, Andrej Sotlar, Bojan Dobovšek, Branko Lobnikar 657 criminal offence were detected. Forty-nine organised criminal groups were detected, 44 of which were linked to foreign criminal groups.

In 2000 the police dealt with 61,280 criminal offences involving general and special forms of crime7, 42.1 per cent of which were cleared up. Estimated damage totalling SIT 16.3 million was caused. Charges were filed against 16,234 persons. In 2000 the police dealt with 2,289 criminal offences against life and limb. Murder within families, or murder where the murderer and victim were known to each other, were the most common types of murder; the most common motive for murder was revenge. According to police estimates, the number of contract killings increased.

Graph 1: Criminal offences 1996–2000

Table 7: Criminal offences against life and limb 1999–2000

The number of criminal offences against sexual integrity fell slightly. Over 90 per cent of reported criminal offences against life and limb were cleared up.

Table 8: Criminal offences against sexual integrity 1999–2000

Police officers also dealt with 1,261 (1,264) violations of the Weapons Act, which was almost the same as the previous year. In uncovering the illegal import of weapons into the country, police officers established 366 (295) violations at border crossings in cooperation with customs officers, which was 24.1 per cent more than the year before. On account of suspicions that an individual had ceased to meet the conditions for weapons possession, 52 (34) initiatives to begin an administrative procedure for the seizure of weapons were forwarded to the competent administrative divisions.

Due to violations of the provisions of the Control of the State Border Act and the Weapons Act, the police seized 755 (588) weapons and 57,036 (99,096) pieces of ammunition, mostly at border crossings with Croatia. They dealt with 126 (136) attempts to bring or take drugs across the state border. Most attempts were discovered at the border with Croatia. At and outside border crossings, the police also seized 36 (36) vehicles on suspicion that they had been stolen. The majority were seized at the border with Croatia.

Illegal crossings of the state border continued to increase in 2000. The borders with Hungary and Croatia were exposed to the highest level of threat. The police adjusted the provision of security at the state border to meet the level of threat; they therefore began implementing additional measures for the prevention of illegal migration in the second half of the year. The border police units with the heaviest workload were assisted by special units and riot police units. More intensive cooperation with the security bodies of neighbouring countries was introduced.

Police officers dealt with 35,892 (18,695) cases of illegal crossing of the state border in 2000, which was an increase of 92 per cent on 1999. The majority of cases involved citizens of Iran (14,852/907), Turkey (4,892/1,139) and Romania (4,304/3,050), followed by citizens of Bangladesh (1,603/711), Iraq (1,403/453) and Yugoslavia (1,369/8,261).

Graph 2: Recorded illegal crossings of the state border 1996 - 2000

Most illegal crossings took place at the border with Croatia, which saw the largest increase. Almost half were citizens of Iran who had come to Slovenia via Bosnia-Herzegovina. The number of Iranian citizens fell considerably at the end of the year when the government of Bosnia-Herzegovina introduced visas for them.

Table 10: Illegal crossings of the state border 1999 - 2000

Police officers refused admission to 44,908 (39,740) foreign persons, or 13 per cent more than the year before. The majority of foreign persons were citizens of Croatia, Italy, Bosnia- Herzegovina, Romania, Germany, Austria, Yugoslavia and Turkey.

Slovenian border police returned 5,740 (4,017) foreign persons to foreign security bodies, the majority of them at the Croatian (4,414/2,967) and Hungarian (1,248/977) borders. At the Italian border 71 (66) foreign persons were refused admission and at the Austrian border seven (6). At Brnik Airport no foreign person was refused admission (there had been one the previous year).

Cooperation with Croatia, Italy and Hungary focused on resolving the issue of the detection and prevention of illegal migration, and the implementation of agreements on returning persons.

Intolerance, Xenophobia and Racism:
Ethnic Problems and Protection of Ethnic Minorities

From the constitutional and legal point of view Slovenia can set a good example of how to deal correctly with the ethnic and other minorities within society (religious groups, strangers, homosexuals, etc.…). Such protective provisions are included in the Constitution and the Penal Code and they are in accordance with the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. In order to prevent ethnic tensions and to ensure the cultural, economic and political existence of autochthonous national minorities in Slovenia, about 3.050 Italians and about 8.500 Hungarians have constitutionally (and practically) been guaranteed protection.

Although nearly 90 % of 2 millions inhabitants of Slovenia are native Slovenes, there is an important portion of representatives of the nations from the former Yugoslavia (according to 1991’s census: Croats – 54.000, Serbs – 48.000, Bosnian Muslims – 27.000, Montenegrins - 4.500, Macedonians – 4.500, Kosovo Albanians – 4.000, etc) These ethnic groups came to Slovenia in 1950s, 1960s, 1970s and 1980s as economic immigrants (“guest workers”), mostly with intention to make some money in order to create a better life in their homeland. But after the independence of Slovenia and break-up of Yugoslavia followed by bloody war, most of them (and especially their children) decided to stay in Slovenia and took Slovenian citizenship. As economic immigrants they live on the whole territory of Slovenia, especially in the towns with major industry and they represent alochthonous minorities. It would be nonsense to claim that mentioned such Slovenian citizens of Non-Slovene origin have always been accepted “with the open arms” by all native Slovenes. On the other hand, it would be also nonsense to talk about ethnic conflicts and violence in Slovenia, either between Slovenes and “others”, or among ethnic groups themselves. It is interesting that the situation did not change even during the wars in Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Macedonia, or during Serbian-Albanian conflict in Kosovo and the NATO campaign against Federal Republic of Yugoslavia! At the same time there were cases of violent clashes between members of organised crime gangs of different ethnic origin (for example Serbs and Montenegrins against Albanians).

About 2.300 Roma also live in Slovenia and their situation is far from being comparable with other ethnic groups. They live in different regions but mainly in areas near the border with Croatia and Hungary. The state helps them to preserve their language and cultural tradition but they are not well integrated in the mainstream Slovenian culture. Most of them are the poorest inhabitants of Slovenia and public sentiments toward them are not always positive. On the contrary, we have been faced with cases when some Slovenes and even the mass media treated them as the second class citizens and potential criminals.

Intolerance Toward Refugees and Illegal Immigrants
The situation in the field of public acceptance of temporary immigrants in Slovenia is much worse. The wars in former Yugoslavia caused a huge influx of refugees to Slovenia, especially in period from 1992 to 1995. There were approximately 70.000 refugees mainly from Bosnia and Herzegovina. Slovenia took care about them in sense of accommodation, lodging, health and schooling of their children. In a situation, where about 120.000 Slovenes were unemployed, where social stratification was becoming greater and greater, and where an Gorazd Meško, Peter Umek, Milan Pagon, Andrej Sotlar, Bojan Dobovšek, Branko Lobnikar 661 important part of our existing inhabitants crossed the threshold of poverty (social underclass), the allocation of important financial and other resources to needs of refugees has not been positively accepted by all citizens. Many of them expressed negative feelings toward refugees. However, contrary to some cases in some other European countries which have also received refugees, the police did not register physical attacks on refugee centres that have been established all over Slovenia.

After the war in Croatia and Bosnia, most refugees returned to their homelands, but then a second wave of immigrants came to Slovenia. Since 1997 a large number of illegal immigrants from Iran, Iraq, Turkey, Afganisthan, Algeria, Bangladesh, China have crossed the Slovenia state border with Croatia and Hungary with intention of finding a job and better life in some states of the European Union (Umek, Meško and Dobovšek, 2001). Slovenia does not represent a final destination for illegal immigrants and it is used by them mostly because it is a neighbouring country of Italy and Austria. Slovenian police forces return all illegal immigrants (with exception of asylum seekers) to their homeland (if that is possible for security reasons). Illegal immigrants are put into Centre for the Deportation of Aliens where they wait for their return. Because the centres are not the prisons many of these immigrants take the first opportunity to leave them and try to cross the borders with Austria or Italy.

Such procedures and treatment of illegal immigrants contributed to different problems in Slovenian society. Especially at the end of year 2000 and in January 2001 when the number of illegal immigrants was growing very fast and Slovenian authorities did not have enough room for their accommodation, a lot of Slovenes, especially those who lived near these centres protested against the immigrants and the “liberal policy“ (according to their statements) of Slovenian authorities towards them. Some groups publicly expressed their xenophobia and hatred. Also a campaign for removal of the largest centre for aliens from Ljubljana was launched and a so called “civilian initiative” which threatened with civil disobedience to the authorities in case of not resolving the problem with accommodation and treatment of illegal immigrants was established. Once again some Slovenian media contributed to the not toogood- looking picture of the whole situation by reporting mainly about the problems of Slovenes with immigrants and about the police “hunt” on immigrants. The media reports have been very emotional and many times even full of exaggeration causing prejudice and stereotypes. Some respected Slovene intellectuals warn that some actions of Slovene citizens should be considered as racism and xenophobia. Finally, many non-governmental organisations, intellectuals and even some members of political elite stood up in defence of integrity, dignity and basic human rights of immigrants. After that the whole situation somehow calmed down and the authorities began to resolve the problems gradually.

Skinheads: Racism and Intolerance
In winter 2000 the peaceful demonstrations against the entry of right-wing political leader J. Haider and his party into the new Austrian government were held in Ljubljana. Skinheads “caught the opportunity” to fight with protesters. Unfortunately the protesters were in the greater number and beat up the skinheads. In summer 2001, a small group of skinheads attacked a well-known and popular TV entertainer of an African origin. This event has triggered a huge public debate, especially when the police did not recognise the attacked actor as the only victim and they accused him of triggering the incident by provoking the skinheads.

For a short time a web sites of Slovene skinheads appeared at the beginning of year 2001. Its content was full of racism and it announced the prevention of further development of non- Slovenes “who were poisoning the Slovene nation by their blood and behaviour”. Some statements called for, directly or indirectly, to the physical extermination of Non-Slovenes. Soon after that these sites were removed or withdrawn (Zagorac, 2001: 176).

The total number of skinheads in Slovenia has probably never been over 100. Currently, they are probably not so well organised as they were in the first half of the nineties and the active nucleus of their movement has probably no more that 10 – 15 members. But it seems that skinheads become attractive for the younger generation. According to the police data even children of age 13 – 16 can be found among skinheads. These young “skinheads” do not deal much with ideological questions, mostly they are followers of specific music and some of them are attracted by skinheads simply because they want “to be different” and “to belong to someone/some group”. Of course such persons can be also easily manipulated by more keen members of skinhead movement.

Right-Wing Political Radicalism

Since the downfall of the communist regime in Slovenia the most “important” radical political parties have come from the right wing of the political spectrum. The parliamentary elections in 1992 brought up the phenomenon of a new, very nationalistic political party called Slovenska nacionalna stranka - SNS (Slovenian National Party).

The party won 12 seats (out of 90) in the National Assembly, especially by focusing its attention on the revision of citizenship that Non-Slovenes of Yugoslav origin have got after the independence of the state. The party claimed that the legislation was too liberal, and that about 150.000 Non-Slovenes were granted the Slovene citizenship which “they haven’t deserved.” The party expressed a direct hatred to non-Slovenes of Yugoslav origin and other immigrants and refugees. The party also declared that they (the party) were the only one who really cared for Slovenia and Slovenes (Rizman, 1998: 254). But it seems that the party (once in parliament) was not radical “enough” for a group of party’s deputies led by Sašo Lap.

After three deputies left SNS (or were excluded from the party?!) in 1993, the party split up and two new parties emerged – the SNS which lost few deputies but kept the name, the property and the same leader (Z. Jelin?i?) and Slovenska nacionalna desnica - SND (Slovenian National Right), established by the three former deputies of the SNS and representatives of some other non-parliamentarian parties (Liberal Party, National Party of Slovenia). Under the leadership of S. Lap, SND was even more radical then SNS. SND together with Slovenska ljudska stranka (Slovenian People’s Party) demanded a national referendum on suppression of citizenship of 160.000 – 170.000 Non-Slovenes who had been previously granted the citizenship. The Constitutional Court of Slovenia rejected their initiative, as well as some of left political parties (Rizman, 1998: 258). In 1995 the party also established the “sport’s” organisation called Slovenski Sokoli (Slovenian Falcons). Members of this organisation who were wearing uniforms but they were unarmed, had task “to fight (if necessary) with danger which comes from the presence of Non-Slovenes, especially Serbs” (ibid: 257). Slovenes rejected them as well and the party which did not succeed to be re-elected to parliament in the elections in 1996.

In addition, there have also been some small non-parliamentary nationalist and xenophobic political parties for example Nacionalnosocialna zveza Slovenije (National-Social Union of Slovenia). This party “felt responsible” for Slovenia and Slovenes as well as their future. It formed so called “trojke” (groups of three persons) in order to “restore the order and peace and to protect a common (Slovenian) man who is being threatened by Non-Slovenes from former Yugoslav republics. That is the case in big towns where the police is corrupted and indifferent”. For a very short time, a few such groups have showed up in Maribor, but then Gorazd Meško, Peter Umek, Milan Pagon, Andrej Sotlar, Bojan Dobovšek, Branko Lobnikar 663 Ministry of the Interior banned them (ibid). In fact, the criminal rate and the whole security situation in Slovenia was very stable and there was no need for any such “support” to the police in performing their law enforcement and public order tasks.

At present, if we talk about any “significant” right-wing extremism at all, we must say that despite the fact that Slovenian National Party has somehow lost its acuteness, it still represents the most influential radical political party in Slovenia. At the parliamentary elections in 1996 and 2000 it was hardly re-elected, but its president has even announced his candidacy for the President of the Republic of Slovenia at the presidential elections in autumn 2002. Nowadays, the party has “a lot to do” with criticism on the expense the Slovenian government and its “nondetermination” in relations to European Union, NATO and especially Croatia in the field of fixing the border line between the two states. At the same time, the party’s constant criticism on the expense of the leadership of Roman Catholic Church in Slovenia and their claims for reprivatisationof “national goods” makes SNS “alive” among many Slovenes, which otherwise usually do not support political parties of this kind.

Anti-Globalisation Movement and Their (Sporadic) Violence
The wave of anti-globalisation has splashed into Slovenia, too. Protests and demonstrations against globalisation, the biggest multinational companies and the richest states in the world were held during the Bush - Putin summit in Slovenia in June 2001. The organisation of demonstrations was co-ordinated by Urad za intervencije – UZI (“Bureau for interventions”)8 which is together with Globala the most known Slovenian civilian initiative in the field of anti-globalisation with significant ideological support of some young left-wing intellectuals. Fortunately, the protests were almost non-violent, especially if we compare them with extremely violent protests in Seattle, Prague or Stockholm before, and in Genova after the above mentioned summit. There were quite a few reasons for such development of the events in Slovenia. The most important were: firstly, the protesters were not very numerous and it seems that Ljubljana as a provincial European metropolis is not so attractive for all these world’s antiglobalisation protesters as some other European capitals are. Secondly, the protesters themselves were non-violent. Thirdly, the police were prepared very good and they even rejected some foreign anti-globalists at the border due to security reasons; and finally, neither the protesters, nor the police, provoked each other which resulted in more or less peaceful manifestations.

Institutional Violence in Slovenia
There are few approachable empirical sources about so-called institutional violence in Slovenia. Social science research poorly covers a field of institutional violence. This phenomenon has not been discussed by the correctional system nor by the agency for the implementation of medical treatment. There have been a few cases of infringement in obligatory psychiatric treatment as in cases of false imprisonment but it is clear that bigger role in the field of institutional violence was attributed to police brutality. There are particulars, which show that police brutality in Slovenia is no longer a coincidence or an event that has nothing to do with the police as an organization, but show that police brutality is a sort of behavior, which is organisationally determined. In the continuation of this text some indirect indicators of police violence (brutality) in Slovenia will be presented.

Amnesty International ( reported that there were reports of ill-treatment and excessive use of force by Slovenian police officers. According to Amnesty International, conditions in reception centres for refugees and asylum-seekers were inadequate and in at least one case reportedly amounted to degrading treatment.

In May 2000 the UN Committee against Torture reviewed Slovenia's initial report on its implementation of the Convention against Torture. In its Conclusions and Recommendations, the Committee expressed concern that the present Slovenian Criminal Code, adopted in 1994, does not include torture as a criminal offence. Slovenia's report argued that crimes within the Convention's definition of torture - specifically the infliction of aggravated and serious bodily harm and the abuse of power by state officials - were incorporated in the Criminal Code. However, the Committee stated that the Convention definition of torture was more comprehensive than merely inflicting bodily harm and that failure to include torture as defined by the Convention in criminal law led to people guilty of torture not being appropriately punished. The Committee was also concerned about allegations of police ill-treatment and use of excessive force against people in custody, in particular members of the Roma community. In addition, Slovenian legislation on the treatment of aliens allowed, under certain circumstances, for the expulsion of people to countries where they could be at risk of torture, which constitutes a breach of the Convention (ibidem).

In November 2000 the European Court of Human Rights found that Slovenia had breached several provisions of the European Convention on Human Rights in the case of Ernst Rehbock, a German national who had been ill-treated by Slovenian police in September 1995. The Court concluded that the arresting officers had used unwarranted force, as a result of which Ernst Rehbock had his jaw broken and sustained further injuries. In addition, his right to have the legality of his detention reviewed promptly had been violated as it took local courts several months to decide on his complaint against his detention.

In his annual report for the year 2000, the Slovenian ombudsman reported (www.varuhrs. si) that in 2000 they received 86 written applications relating to police procedures, as opposed to 78 in 1999. Thus the figure has grown by 10 per cent. Most applications concerned police powers, and also the possibilities of complaint about police procedures. Applications relating to the imposition or collection of on-the-spot fines (issuing of a payment order, payment of half the fine or objection within eight days) were relatively numerous.

The last time when the Slovenian ombudsman, Matjaž Hanžek, has called attention to the police brutality was on press conference on April 2, 2002. It was reported by STA (Slovenian Press Agency) that Hanžek also introduced the following example of alleged police violence against a detainee who ended with bodily harms. 20-years old boy, who supposed to be beaten by police officers, will probably suffer from consequences all his life as his right cheek is after the medical operation still paralyzed after a medical operation. The incident happened in July 2001 in police station in Piran and according to the ombudsman the youngster suffered bodily harm during the police proceedings. He was in hospital for a few days and he has also had blood in his urine. The police stated that the injuries were not the result of physical force after the youngster was taken to the police station. Police states that the youngster had fallen during the police intervention when he was trying to escape from the police. Because of this event, the members of ombudsman`s bureau unexpectedly visited the police station in Piran in March 18, 2002 where they found two wooden sticks exactly on the place where they were expected to be after the deposition of the young boy. They found them in the room for »operational questioning and treatment«. The Slovene ombudsman Hanžek considers this as the fact that sustains the claims of the complainant and added that there is no legal definition that allows physical force and other coercive measures after the person is detained. Hanžek summoned the police to give a convincing report about the incident. Ombudsman also criticized the medical treatment of a doctor who examined the boy in the police station, because he did not finish his Gorazd Meško, Peter Umek, Milan Pagon, Andrej Sotlar, Bojan Dobovšek, Branko Lobnikar 665 work. He did not insure him privacy during examination neither did write the cause of the injury according to boy’s deposition. Hanžek said that the main problem is not the abuse of police power, because this will continue to happen, but the fact that the police and the state do not react in such cases. If there is no external control toward the police work these problems are more frequent and the police will deal with complaints on their work superficially (STA, 2002: 2. 4. 2002).

Crime perpetrated by refugees has been presented in mass media, particularly in the press, as a serious and acute problem. After reading the news on crime, the average citizen can reach the conclusion that refugees and all kinds of migrants are dangerous to the life and property of the Slovene citizens. Refugees were also at the core of various disputes at the time of the changing socio-economic situation in Slovenia due to the fact that relative satisfactory standard was being provided for the refugees, while a social underclass of Slovene population which emerged at the same time received hardly any aid.

Refugees and alien immigrants can be also the cause of irrational fear of migrants, increasing xenophobia, nationalism and racism. With regard to refugees, the state in the field of refugees is very close to moral panic (Cohen, 1972, Goode, Ben-Yehooda, 1994), which is known as a fear of potential problems in disproportion to the real extent of the problem.

Fear of crime, xenophobia and fear of the unknown all engender a fear of refugees from Bosnia and Herzegovina, with whom we had lived together for many years, and who now represent an unwelcome nuisance which could endanger Slovene nationals. Regarding the latent violence of the police officers several research results provide us with the concerning fact that the police are under the influence of some negative feelings toward illegal immigrants and other marginal groups (refugees, homosexuals, other ethnic groups). Umek, Meško and Abutovi? (2000: 397 – 406) have found out quite a high level of prejudiced orientation among the Slovenian police officers and also an existence of the significant difference among the police officers of Slovenian and non-Slovenian origin. The last group of police officers is more tolerant to socially marginal group. The authors of the survey have also stated that prejudiced orientation is less expressed by older police officers and that the former police cadets determine the police culture including the perception of above mentioned marginal groups. In addition, Umek, Meško and Dobovšek (2001) have found out that negative attitudes toward illegal immigrants are related to the frequency of contacts of the police with illegal immigrants – police officers who have the highest number of contacts with illegal immigrants admit their negative attitudes toward them and admit that they treat illegal immigrants disrespectfully.

Such police attitudes can be partially explained by the fact that “mass migrations” are officially treated as one of the most important threats to national security of Slovenia (according to the Resolution on National Security Strategy of the Republic of Slovenia), by the high demands of local residents regarding illegal immigrants and by the sensational reports of some mass media (especially the “yellow” ones) about “numerous” crimes attributed to immigrants and organised crime which is supposed to have its roots in Eastern and Southern Europe. On the other hand, police officers are aware of their negative attitudes and they blame their bad working conditions for their work related dissatisfaction. However, the official statistics reveals just a few violations of police powers regarding illegal immigrants and reports on police work also imply that police officers act professionally and enforce laws correctly (Umek, Meško and Dobovšek, 2001).

In addition, Slovenia has faced a relatively small number of recorded cases of violent extremism, but yet enough to realise, that it is not a place without violence and cannot be absolutely safe from some negative consequences of the processes of intra-social stratification, globalisation and European integration. It seems that the creation of an independent state and the development of some kind of social solidarity within the nation have played the most important roles in preventing the country from major disturbances.

However, the Slovene society is far from being immune to intolerance, xenophobia and racism, and despite the fact majority of political parties tends toward the centre of political spectrum, there is obviously still enough room for more radical political parties. We can describe the present situation as “verbal violence” having in mind of course, that some cases of physical violence, based on racism and xenophobia were also noted and were prosecuted. But it would be very dangerous if we underestimate such verbal violence, because it can easily become a trigger of the “real” violence.

Dealing with extreme phenomena in the society is not the exclusively job for the police and other repressive institutions of the state, neither of these bodies can play the decisive role. It is the political elite which should take more responsibility and play more active, especially more preventative role in this field.

The elected political elite of the National Assembly is responsible for creating the conditions in which all members of society can have equal opportunities for overall personal development (mental, economic, cultural, spiritual, etc.). Such social development could be a cornerstone in preventing causes of internal (intra-social) conflicts.

1 i.e. at the beginning of the conflict between Yugoslav Army and Croatia and the ensuing problems.
2 Such data were not available for the second wave of immigrants which started afted the war in B&H was finished in 1996.
3 Source of data: Office for Immigration and Refugees, Government of the Republic of Slovenia.
4 Criminal Statistics of the Ministry of the Interior of the Republic of Slovenia.
5 Criminal Statistics of the Ministry of the Interior of the Republic of Slovenia.
6 Statistical crime data originates in police records and does not include criminal offences of endangering road traffic, which is recorded separately, and criminal offences committed by children, since they are not criminally liable.
7 This section shows all criminal offences except those that were business-related.
8 “UZI is non authoritarian co-ordination and co-operation of all who love cheerfulness and creativity and believe in autonomy and solidarity. For that reason we resolutely oppose ideologies, false social identities and forced moral, rulers, official schools, media and Churches which want to rob us of self responsibility, hope, love, dreams and courage. “We fight against patriarchate and matriarchate; for independent life of handicapped persons; against neo-liberal global capitalism and further pushing most of the world into poverty; for world without borders and for universal citizenship; …against xenophobia, racism, militarism, sexism,…authorities, power, …; against police state and all imperialistic military alliance….. Are you ready to unite your hope in defiance and revolution for better live? If the answer is YES than you are UZI!” – excerpt from public presentation of UZI(

1. Amnesty International (2002). Annual report. Slovenia. 2001. Gorazd Meško, Peter Umek, Milan Pagon, Andrej Sotlar, Bojan Dobovšek, Branko Lobnikar
2. Media in Slovenia. Mediawatch, Open Society Institute – Slovenia.
3. Meško, G. (1996). Crime and Refugees in Slovenia. A paper presented at the ECRS
4. Conrefence on Crime and Social Order in Europe. Manchester, September 1996.
5. Pagon, M.; Kutnak – Ivkovich, S.; Lobnikar, B. (2000). Comparing Supervisor and Line Officer Opinions about the Code of Silence: The Case of Slovenia. In: Pagon, M (ed.) Policing in Central and Eastern Europe: Ethics, Integrity and Human Rights. Ljubljana: College of Police and Security Studies.
6. Resolution on National Security Strategy of the Republic of Slovenia (Official Gazette of the RS, No. 56/2001)
7. Rizman, R. (1998). Radikalna desnica na Slovenskem. Teorija in praksa, 35, 2, Ljubljana: FDV.
8. Umek P., Meško, G. and Abutovi?, R. (2000). All Different – All Equal? A Fairy Tale About Police Impartiality. In: Pagon. M. (ed.). Policing in Central and Eastern Europe: Ethics, Integrity and Human Rights. Ljubljana: College of Police and Security Studies.
9. Umek P., Meško, G. and Dobovšek, B. (2001). Police Officers and Illegal Immigrants in the South Eastern part of Slovenia. Paper presented at the First European Society of Criminology Conference, Lausanne, 6. - 8. 9. 2001.
10. STA. (2002). Hanžek opozarja tudi na vladne kršitve zakonov. April 2, 2002.
11. STA. (2002). Najve? pobud še vedno zaradi sodnih in policijskih postopkov. September 25, 2002.
12. Varuh ?lovekovih pravic (2002). Letno poro?ilo za leto 2000.
13. Zagorac, D. (2001). Primer Bintchende. In: Poro?ilo za spremljanje nestrposti 01/Intolerance Monitoring Group Report 01. Ljubljana: Mirovni inštitut/Peace Institute.

Article abstracted from: Policing in Central and Eastern Europe 2002