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TITLE: SLOVENIA HUMAN RIGHTS PRACTICES, 1993 DATE: JANUARY 31, 1994 AUTHOR: U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE SLOVENIA Slovenia is a parliamentary democracy and constitutional republic. It declared its independence from the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia on June 26, 1991. A 10-day war ended with the withdrawal of the Yugoslav National Army units. The country has been free of strife since then. The 1991 Constitution proclaims Slovenia a democratic republic "governed by the rule of law." The President serves as the Head of State and commander in chief of the armed forces. Prime Minister Janez Drnovsek of the Liberal Democratic Party leads a coalition Government formed after free and fair multiparty elections held in December 1992. Slovenia is a functioning multiparty democracy with more than 10 active political parties offering a wide variety of political and economic programs to the voters. National elections for the presidency and legislature, in which over 1,000 candidates competed, were held in December 1992. Police and security forces are under the control of the Ministry of the Interior, headed by a civilian official. The armed forces of Slovenia do not exercise civil police functions. Slovenia is in a slow but steady transition from a largely state-owned economy to one based on private ownership. The Slovene currency is fully convertible internally and is judged stable. It is linked to the German mark but is allowed to depreciate in accordance with internal price changes. Inflation, now running at 25 percent per annum and falling, has declined markedly since independence. Unemployment, at year's end 15.3 percent, was a major source of concern. The loss of most of the Slovenian market in the old Yugoslavia and the Europe-wide recession have put tremendous strains on both labor and management. There were no major human rights problems in 1993. The Constitution and actual practice accord protected status to the Italian and Hungarian communities, as well as to the Gypsies. The media exploit their freedoms with caution, and the role of former Communists in public life is still at issue despite (or because of) their continuing participation in the Government. RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS Section 1 Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom from: a. Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing No unlawful killings instigated by official organs or vigilante groups were known to have occurred. b. Disappearance There were no reports of politically motivated or government- instigated disappearances. c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment The Constitution prohibits torture and inhuman treatment as well as "humiliating punishment or treatment." There were no reports of such treatment of prisoners. d. Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile The Constitution prohibits arbitrary arrest or deprivation of liberty and requires that the detaining authority must advise the detainee in writing within 24 hours, in his own language, of the reasons for his arrest. The law also provides safeguards against self-incrimination. The detainee has the right to legal counsel of his choice and may appeal his detention, which the court must decide on within 48 hours. The detainee may be held with cause for a maximum of 3 months, and the Supreme Court may extend detention for another 3 months. In practice, these rights and limitations are fully respected. There is no exile. e. Denial of Fair Public Trial The court system comprises local and district courts, and the Supreme Court acts as the highest court in the country. The Constitution states that judges are independent and fill their offices permanently, subject to an age limit. They are elected by the State Assembly (parliament) on the nomination of the Judicial Council. The Council is composed of 11 members, 5 of whom are elected by the State Assembly on the nomination of the President of the Republic, and the remaining 6 are sitting judges selected by their peers. The nine-member Constitutional Court rules on the constitutionality of legislation and legal regulations and on jurisdictional disputes, and it also acts as a final court of appeal in cases requiring a constitutional interpretation. Members of the Constitutional Court, who are appointed for one 9-year term, are nominated by the President and approved by the State Assembly. According to the Constitution, a defendant's rights include: equality before the law, presumption of innocence, due process, open court proceedings, guarantees of appeal, and a prohibition against double jeopardy. These rights are respected in practice. There are no political prisoners. f. Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or Correspondence The Constitution provides protection for privacy, personal rights, the inviolability of the home, mail, and other means of communication and personal data. In practice, these rights and protections are respected. Section 2 Respect for Civil Liberties, Including: a. Freedom of Speech and Press The Constitution provides for freedom of speech and press. There are five major dailies and numerous weekly newspapers. Most of the major print media are supported through private investment and advertising. The media span the political spectrum from left to right. Although Slovenia is ethnically fairly homogeneous, there is a newspaper for the Italian minority living along the Adriatic coast and an Italian-language television channel. Hungarian radio programming is common in the northeast region of Slovenia. Bosnian refugees and the Albanian community publish newspapers or newsletters in their own languages. The Parliament has been debating a media law for the past 2 years but has yet to pass one. A council appointed by Parliament controls Radio-Television Slovenia, which regulates the country's television transmitters. Radio-Television Slovenia broadcasts on two television channels and three radio stations. In addition, one independent television station and more than 50 independent radio stations broadcast in Slovenia. Most of the media are politically independent, offering diverse opinions on a wide range of subjects. Numerous private interest and academic journals and publications are available, as are foreign newspapers, magazines, and journals. Newly emerging from over four decades of an authoritarian political system, Slovenia retains some of the legacies of such a regime, especially in self-censorship. Some journalists, who were supported by the previous regime, continue to be loyal to their patrons from the Communist past, a few of whom still hold influential posts. Accustomed to having their articles published under the old system, these journalists remain cautious about expressing criticism. Members of the younger generation of print and broadcast journalists seem relatively unrestrained in their dealings with government officials and others in public life. The election law specifies that the media must offer free space and time to political parties for party use at election time. Some critics claim that this provision interferes with the commercial and editorial independence of the media. The Constitution provides that universities and other institutions of higher education shall be autonomous and that scientific and artistic endeavor shall be free. Academic freedom is rigorously respected. b. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association The Constitution guarantees the right of peaceful assembly and participation in public meetings. Permits for meetings are routinely granted. Persons have the right to associate freely. These rights may be restricted only in circumstances involving national security, public safety, or for protection against infectious diseases, and then only by act of the State Assembly. Career military and police personnel are not allowed to be members of political parties. c. Freedom of Religion The Constitution guarantees the unfettered profession of religious and other beliefs in private and in public. No person may be compelled to admit his religious or other beliefs. There is no state religion, although the appropriate role, if any, for religious instruction in the schools is still the subject of political debate. Approximately 70 percent of the population adheres to the Roman Catholic faith, and 2.5 percent to the Eastern Orthodox. There are also Protestant congregations, especially in the eastern part of the country. Clergy, missionaries, churches, and religious centers in the country operate without hindrance. d. Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation The Constitution provides that each person has the right to freedom of movement, to choose a place of residence, to leave the country, and to return as desired. Any limitations on these rights may only be made by statute and only when necessary in criminal cases, to control infectious disease, and in defense of the State. In practice, Slovenes travel widely, freely, and often. The Constitution guarantees the right of political asylum for those foreign nationals and persons without citizenship "who are persecuted for their stand on human rights and fundamental freedoms." Slovenia has taken in over 75,000 refugees, mainly Muslims, from Bosnia-Herzegovina, which represents 3.5 percent of Slovenia's population. The refugees are accommodated in more than 40 centers where they receive aid and education in their language. Section 3 Respect for Political Rights: The Right of Citizens to Change Their Government Slovene citizens have the right to change their government and have done so peacefully through two free and fair elections since independence. As a result of national elections in December 1992--in which 10 parties competed--a four-party coalition, led by Prime Minister Janez Drnovsek of the Liberal Democratic Party, came to power. Slovenia has a mixed parliamentary and presidential system. The President serves as Head of State and commander in chief of the armed forces and has the power to call elections for the State Assembly and proclaim statutes. He may not serve more than two consecutive 5-year terms. The President nominates the Prime Minister who must be confirmed by the State Assembly. The 90-member State Assembly has a 4-year term of office. The elected 40-member National Council in the legislature, representing social, economic, trade and professional, and local interests, serves somewhat as an upper house. There are no restrictions on women or minorities voting or participating in politics. The Italian and Hungarian ethnic communities are each entitled to elect one representative to the Assembly, regardless of their numbers. The Woman's Issues Office in the Prime Minister's office is very active in the promotion of women's rights. Section 4 Governmental Attitude Regarding International and Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations of Human Rights Slovenia has a well-respected independent Council of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, founded in 1990, which investigates complaints about violations of human rights and governmental responsibility. The Government places no formal or practical obstacles in the way of visits or investigations by international or local human rights groups. Section 5 Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, Disability, Language, or Social Status Women Slovenia has made gender equality a matter of state policy. In general, there is no official discrimination against women or minorities in housing, jobs, education, or other facets of the society. The Constitution specifies that marriage is based on the equality of both spouses and that the State shall protect the family, motherhood, and fatherhood. Women are well represented throughout Slovene public life, in business, in academia, and in government. In practice, women, even those employed, continue to bear a disproportionate share of household work and family care as a result, particularly in rural areas, of a generally conservative social tradition. Slovenia generally provides equal pay for equal work for men and women. In the current recession, both men and women may suffer from loss of work, and they endure the same average period of unemployment. Women, however, still are found more often in lower paying jobs. It is difficult to determine with any specificity the extent of violence against women in Slovenia. In general, the level of personal crime and violence is relatively low. The problem of spousal abuse and violence against women exists and public discussion of this issue is common. Police are not reluctant to intervene in such cases. Crimes of abuse of women are treated according to the existing Penal Code. There is no special legislation on crimes against women. Children The Constitution provides that children enjoy human rights in accordance with their age and maturity and, in Article 56, are guaranteed special protection against economic, social, physical, or mental exploitation or abuse. National/Racial/Ethnic Minorities At the last census, in 1991, Slovenia had a population of approximately 2 million--including 1,727,018 Slovenes and persons of 23 other nationalities. There were 54,212 Croats, 47,911 Serbs, 26,842 Muslims, 8,503 Hungarians, and 3,064 Italians, as well as Albanians and Macedonians. The Constitution provides special rights to the "autochthonous Italian and Hungarian ethnic communities," such as the right to elect a representative to the Assembly, use their own national symbols, establish organizations, enjoy bilingual education, and other privileges, and imposes a special obligation on the Republic to support financially and morally the implementation of those rights. Article 65 of the Constitution also provides that the small Roma (Gypsy) communities, which have approximately 6,500 members, shall have special status and rights. Some members of the Serbian- and German-speaking communities have complained that they are not specifically mentioned in the Constitution and granted "minority" status. People with Disabilities Slovenia has taken steps to provide access to social and economic opportunities for the disabled, for whom the Constitution guarantees security and training for work. The law mandates access to public facilities for disabled persons. Section 6 Worker Rights a. The Right of Association The Constitution provides that the establishment and activity of trade unions, as well as the recruitment of their members, are unrestricted. Virtually all workers, except for the police and members of the security forces, are eligible to form and join labor organizations of their own choosing. Slovenian labor now has two nationwide labor groupings with constituent branches throughout the country. A third, much smaller, regional labor union is active on the Adriatic coast. Unions are formally and actually independent of government and the political parties, but individual unionists may and do hold positions in the legislature. For example, the head of the Neodvisnost Trade Union Federation was a presidential candidate of the Social Democratic Party of Slovenia. The Constitution provides that the State shall be responsible for "the creation of opportunities for employment and for work." Workers enjoy the right to strike, but in October the State Assembly for the first time passed legislation restricting strikes by some public sector employees. A number of strikes occurred in 1993, largely over wages and working conditions. Independent farmers went on strike against the Government's liberal policy on cheap imported agricultural products. They demanded, with little success, protectionist import taxes. There are no restrictions on joining or forming federations and affiliating with like-minded international union organizations. b. The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively Slovenia's economy is in transition from the command economy of the pre-1991 Communist system to a fully market-based system, and the collective bargaining process is undergoing change. Under the old system, the Yugoslav government had a dominant role in setting the minimum wage and other conditions of work. Through negotiations with trade union federations, the Government still exercises an influential role in setting the minimum wage and other conditions for unprivatized enterprises. Private businesses, growing steadily in number, set pay scales directly with their employees' unions or employee representatives. Antiunion discrimination is prohibited by law. There are no export processing zones. c. Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor There is no forced labor in Slovenia; the legal prohibition of forced labor is effectively enforced. d. Minimum Age for Employment of Children The minimum age for employment is 16 years. Compulsory education is 8 years. Some farm communities employ younger children during the harvest or for other farm work. In general, urban employers respect these age limits, which are enforced by the Ministry of Labor. e. Acceptable Conditions of Work The Government and trade union federations try to set adequate minimum wages through negotiations. The minimum wage per month, mandated nationally, was approximately $200 (27,000 tolars) as of year's end. Such a wage base serves as a standard for both public and private firms. The standard workweek is 40 hours. There is a 24-hour rest period provided after 40 hours per week, as well as 12 hours' rest after each 8-hour period of work. Occupational health and safety standards are set and enforced by special commissions (for example, sanitary and labor inspections). The inspection bodies are controlled by the Ministries of Health and Labor respectively.
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