Security, Combating Sexual Child Abuse and Migration on the Agenda for Ministers of the Interior in Prague
Minister of the Interior mag. Tatjana Bobnar has attended the Informal meeting of Justice and Home Affairs Ministers in Prague.
The first session was dedicated to the security impact of the war in Ukraine. The Czech presidency of the Council of the EU invited the Ukrainian Minister of the Interior Denys Monastyrsky and the Moldova Minister of the interior Ana Revenco to attend the discussion and present the current situation in their respective countries.
While our priority is to focus on the humanitarian activities, it is important that the Czech presidency highlighted the security aspect. "Although Slovenian police have so far not detected any major security threats due to the war in Ukraine, they are actively following the situation and criminal intelligence activities have been increased," Minister Tatjana Bobnar addressed her counterparts. She additionally explained that as the majority of Ukrainian refugees are women and children, the Ministry and the Slovenian Police are closely following the situation regarding trafficking in human beings and hold preventive activities.
In the long run, there is a great concern regarding the high amounts of weapons currently circulating in Ukraine, which could end up reaching the EU territory. "This could pose a great threat for us all. It is therefore paramount to protect the external EU border, hold activities in the framework of the European Multidisciplinary Platform Against Criminal Threats at the EU level and work closely and exchange information with our partners in Ukraine and Moldova, and with Europol and Interpol."
Interoperability of information systems in the field of Justice and Home Affairs (the interoperability project) is one of the essential elements for provision of security in the EU. Slovenia is largely on track with the set timeline of the project, which is to change the work process in the field of information exchange and contribute to improvement of border management. Delays in implementation are especially being experienced at the central EU level. The minsters therefore agreed that the period for the system implementation at the EU level is to be extended until June 2024.
Prevention of sexual child abuse and the debate on the new legislative proposal was an important topic on the EU Ministers' agenda. "The experience of previous years, especially the great upsurge of online child sexual abuse during the covid 19 pandemic, have shown that common European rules are needed in order to respond efficiently" said Minister Tatjana Bobnar. She also said that Slovenia is in favour of a clear set of rules, which would allow efficient and timely investigations of offences and safeguard the respect of fundamental human rights. "We also support the proposal, which stipulates that service providers have the obligation to detect, report and remove this type of content, as the majority of victims never report the abuse" the Minister said.
The ministers also talked about the future challenges in the field of migration. Minister Bobnar expressed a concern regarding the increasing number of vulnerable groups arriving to Slovenia, especially children travelling alone or with adults they are not related to, who are thus exposed to becoming victims of human trafficking. Special attention should be paid to these cases, Minister Bobnar added.
The Minister also called for a joint EU-level discussion about visa regime partners in the Western Balkans. Cuban, Indian and African countries’ nationals are able to arrive to these countries legally without a visa. They then continue travelling towards the EU by illegally crossing state borders on the way. "This highlights the importance of the external dimension of migration, where the European External Action Service (EEAS) and the European Commission play the leading role," adding that "the mechanism of incentives and sanctions should be applied thoroughly, especially to our partners with an EU perspective". A common solution is also required to reduce secondary migrations, which pose a heavy burden on the asylum system and the system of returns. "Over half of persons applying for asylum in Slovenia had previously filed an application in another member state," the Minister explained, adding that the secondary migration also affects the option to participate in the relocation as one of the solidarity instruments.
Timely and dignified returns of migrants, who are not eligible for international protection, in full respect of human rights and the principle of non-refoulement, are essential. The Minister also informed her counterparts that Slovenia has established a Consultative Body on Migration, which is to draw up a comprehensive migration strategy based on the principles of solidarity, inclusion and respect for human rights in cooperation with the civil society and NGOs.