Slovenia: 'Erased' residents must have rights restored, 20 years on

"One of the gravest human rights violations in independent Slovenia" - Nicola Duckworth

The Slovenian authorities must restore the legal status of thousands of people who were removed from the countrys registry of permanent residents 20 years ago, Amnesty International said today.

On 26 February 1992, some 25,671 people - about one per cent of the entire population - were unlawfully removed from the Slovenian registry of permanent residents. They were mainly people from other constituent republics of the former Yugoslavia who had been living in Slovenia but had not acquired Slovenian citizenship after the country became independent.

Amnesty International's Europe and Central Asia Director Nicola Duckworth said: "The deletion of thousands of people from the country's permanent residence registry is one of the gravest human rights violations in independent Slovenia.

"The authorities must recognise its discriminatory nature and conduct a thorough and impartial investigation of the erasure and its consequences. With the stroke of a pen, people were denied health care and education, lost their homes, jobs and pensions and had to face extreme poverty and marginalisation. Many were forcibly removed from the country as illegal migrants."

Deprived of their economic, social and political rights, some were forced to migrate to other European countries. Those who stayed in Slovenia had to pretend that they were refugees or even asylum-seekers. There were cases of suicide and of death due to poverty and lack of medical care.

A series of legal rulings against the erasure have since been made. The Constitutional Court in Slovenia ruled twice that the revoking of citizenship was illegal - once in 1999 and again in 2003. It said that those affected should have their status of permanent resident reinstated retroactively from the day the records were deleted.

In 2010, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) found that there had been violations of the right to private and family life and the right to an effective remedy to a group of erased complainants. The ECHR said legislation from 2010 had failed to address all the human rights violations, failed to return the legal status to all of the erased and did not present any plans to wholly address all injustices, including the issue of compensation.

Out of 13,000 whose status remains unresolved, only a limited number have made an application for their status to be restored.

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