Momentarily, in Slovenia there is only one piece of legislation that takes in consideration the circumstances of the erased people: Zakon o urejanju statusa državljanov drugih držav naslednic SFRJ v Republiki Sloveniji (ZUSDDD) (the Act Regulating the Legal Status of Citizens of Former Yugoslavia Living in the Republic of Slovenia).
This Act was first passed in 1999 (and was published in the Official Gazette of the Republic of Slovenia no. 61/1999). The act had been passed after the Constitutional Court established in 1999 that the erasure was unlawful, and the Aliens Act unconstitutional. Namely, in the Aliens Act the legal status of people who were later erased was not regulated (see the 1999 Constitutional Court decision).
The 1999 Act set the three-month deadline to apply for the permanent residence. The basic condition that had to be met by an erased person was that he or she had lived in Slovenia from the deprivation of legal status onwards. According to this requirement, legal status was inaccessible for all those erased people who were deported from Slovenia, had temporary left Slovenia and were later unable to return to the country because of the war, closed borders or other reasons. In addition, the three-month deadline was short and many missed their opportunity to apply for permanent residence or even did not know about this option.
Parts of Law that were Repealed by the Constitutional Court
The purpose of the 1999 Act was to carry out the 1999 Constitutional Court decision. However, due to its content it was impossible to meet this purpose. Consequently, parts of the law were repealed by the Constitutional Court, which in 2003 annulled some of its parts. Among other issues, the Court made it yet again possible to lodge an application as it declared the three-month deadline void. The Court also ordered the National Assembly to pass the proper amendments to the law (see the decision of the Constitutional Court from 2003).
The 2003 Constitutional Court decision remained unimplemented for seven years. The first decision was implemented without delay, as in 1999 Slovenia was in the middle of the negotiation process for entering the European Community and was pressured by the European Commission to address issues concerning people lacking legal status. However, in 2003 when the second Constitutional Court decision was issued the chapter concerning people without any legal status was already closed.
The 2010 Amendments to the 1999 Act
No earlier than in 2010, at the time when Katarina Kresal was the Minister of the Interior, the amendments concerning the status of citizens of the other former republics of Yugoslavia were passed by the Slovenian parliament.
These amendments enabled a slightly broader group of the erased people to acquire permanent residence permits in Slovenia.
With this amendment, the possibility of getting a residence permit was given also to those who were, out of justified reasons, outside Slovenia. Again, the time limit to lodge an application has been set – this time for a period of three years. This deadline will expire on 24 July 2013.
Consolidated version of the law with all changes and competitions is available here. For advice on how to apply for permanent residence permit if you are an erased person see Legal Assistance.
Implementation of the Act concerning the Erased (ZUSDDD)
Since the Act was passed, 229 applications for the permanent residence have been lodged until 28 March 2012. Administrative Offices issued 59 permanent residence permits, in 83 cases the applications were rejected, and 87 cases were pending. For more information on the statistic see the statistics.
After the 2010 amendments to ZUSDDD entered into force, the Ministry of Interior also issued 29 permanent residence permits in relation to applications lodged to the Ministry before the amendments entered into force.
Taking into account that approximately 13.000 erased people (the majority of them living in other countries, probably in other successor states of former Yugoslavia) still do not have legal status in Slovenia, the number of the lodged applications is very low.
There are various reasons for this, including the fact that more than 20 years passed since the erasure meaning that many people have already settled their lives elsewhere. Further, for getting the status back one has to meet strict conditions, the procedure is long-lasting and expensive. Also, Slovenia has not offered any additional measures for remedying the injustices, such as integration or rehabilitation assistance, which would restore human dignity of the erased people.
Regardless of the fact that the legislative amendments are a step in the right direction, as they enable some of the erased to acquire permanent residence permits, there are several problems with these amendments.
One of them concerns a requirement that the erased person proves that he or she attempted to return to Slovenia within a time span between the fifth and tenth year of their absence from Slovenia. Authors consider this demand to be totally arbitrary, for it does not correspond to facts (see N. Kogovšek Šalamon, Pravni vidiki izbrisa iz registra stalnega prebivalstva RS [Legal Aspects of the Erasure from the Register of Permanent Residents], PhD dissertation, Faculty of Law, University of Ljubljana, 2011). Namely, the majority of the erased people actually tried to return to Slovenia during the first five years of their absence, which is in the early nineties, or many years later, as the country adopted the first measures to remedy the wrongs, which means from the year 1999 onwards. See also unresolved issues.
The erased people who do not meet the requirements for permanent residence permit, set by the 1999 Act (ZUSDDD) can also try to use the general immigration rules in place for the foreigners who would like to obtain a residence permit in Slovenia. The Aliens Act for example sets conditions to obtain a temporary residence permit in case of employment, seasonal work, studies and research, family reunification etc.
At the moment, there are no specific rules in place especially for the erased to obtain Slovenian citizenship. To attain the citizenship the erased people have to meet the conditions set forth in the Citizenship of the Republic of Slovenia Act.