U.S. Department of State
Released by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor,
Slovenia Country Report on Human Rights Practices for 1998
February 26, 1998
Slovenia is a parliamentary democracy and constitutional republic. Power
is shared between a directly elected president, a prime minister, and a
bicameral legislature. Since Slovenia‚s independence with the breakup of
Yugoslavia in 1991, free, fair, and open elections have characterized the
political system. In 1997 elections were held to elect both a president
and representatives to Parliament's upper house. The Government respects
constitutional provisions for an independent judiciary in practice.
The police are under the effective civilian control of the Ministry of the
Interior. By law, the armed forces do not exercise civil police
The country has made steady progress toward developing a market economy.
As of November 1, "social property" no longer exists, although sales of
remaining large state holdings have not occurred as rapidly as planned.
Trade has been diversified toward the West and the growing markets of
Central and Eastern Europe. Manufacturing accounts for most employment,
with machinery and other manufactured products constituting the major
exports. Labor force surveys put unemployment at 7.7 percent, but
registration for unemployment assistance is 14.4 percent. Inflation has
remained just below double-digit levels. Real gross national product grew
3.8 percent in 1997. The currency is stable, fully convertible, and backed
by substantial reserves. The economy provides citizens with a good
standard of living.
The Government respects the human rights of its citizens, and the law and
judiciary provide adequate means of dealing with individual instances of
abuse. An ombudsman deals with human rights problems, including
citizenship cases. Minorities generally are treated fairly in practice as
well as in law. However, 5,000 to 10,000 non-Slovene (former Yugoslav)
residents are without legal residency status due to the Government‚s slow
processing of their applications for Slovene citizenship.
RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS
Section 1 Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom
a. Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing
There were no reports of political or other extrajudicial killings.
There were no reports of politically motivated disappearances.
c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or
The Constitution prohibits torture and inhuman treatment as well as
"humiliating punishment or treatment," and there were no reports of such
Prison conditions meet minimum international standards and were not the
subject of complaint by any human rights organization.
The Government permits prison visits by human rights monitors and the
d. Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile
The Constitution prohibits arbitrary arrest, deprivation of liberty, and
the use of exile, and the Government respects these provisions in
The authorities must advise detainees in writing within 24 hours, in their
own language, of the reasons for the arrest. Until charges are brought,
detention may last up to 6 months; once charges have been brought,
detention may be prolonged for a maximum of 2 years. The law also provides
safeguards against self-incrimination. These rights and limitations are
respected in practice.
e. Denial of Fair Public Trial
The Constitution provides for an independent judiciary, and the Government
respects this provision in practice.
The judicial system comprises district courts, regional courts, a court of
appeals, an administrative court, and the Supreme Court. A nine-member
Constitutional Court rules on the constitutionality of legislation. Judges,
elected by the State Assembly (Parliament) on the nomination of the
Judicial Council, are constitutionally independent, and serve indefinitely,
subject to an age limit. The Judicial Council is composed of six sitting
judges elected by their peers and five presidential nominees elected by the
The Constitution provides in great detail for the right to a fair trial,
including provisions for: Equality before the law, presumption of
innocence, due process, open court proceedings, the right of appeal, and a
prohibition against double jeopardy. Defendants by law have the right to
counsel, without cost if need be. These rights are respected in practice,
although the judicial system is so burdened that justice is frequently a
protracted process. In some instances, criminal cases have reportedly
taken 2 to 5 years to come to trial. The problem is not widespread, and
defendants are released on bail except in the most serious criminal
There were no reports of political prisoners.
f. Arbitrary Interference With Privacy, Family, Home, or
The Constitution provides for the protection of privacy, "personal data
rights," and the inviolability of the home, mail, and other means of
communication. These rights and protections are respected in practice, and
violations are subject to effective legal sanction.
Section 2 Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:
a. Freedom of Speech and Press
The Constitution provides for freedom of thought, speech, public
association, the press, and other forms of public communication and
expression. Lingering self-censorship and some indirect political
pressures continue to influence the media.
The press is now a vigorous institution emerging from its more restricted
past. The media span the political spectrum. The major media do not
represent a broad range of ethnic interests, although there is an Italian-
language television channel as well as a newspaper available to the ethnic
Italian minority who live on the Adriatic Coast. Hungarian radio
programming is common in the northeast where there are about 8,500 ethnic
Hungarians. Bosnian refugees and the Albanian community have newsletters
in their own languages.
Four major daily and several weekly newspapers are published. The major
print media are supported through private investment and advertising,
although the national broadcaster, RTV Slovenia, enjoys government
subsidies, as do cultural publications and book publishing. There are
seven television channels, four of which are independent private stations.
Numerous foreign broadcasts are available via satellite and cable. All
major towns have radio stations and cable television. Numerous business
and academic publications are available. Foreign newspapers, magazines,
and journals are widely available.
In theory and practice, the media enjoy full freedom in their journalistic
pursuits. However, for over 40 years Slovenia was ruled by an
authoritarian Communist political system, and reporting about domestic
politics may be influenced to some degree by self-censorship and indirect
The election law requires the media to offer free space and time to
political parties at election time. Television networks routinely give
public figures and opinion makers from across the political spectrum access
via a broad range of public interest programming.
The Constitution provides for autonomy and freedom for universities and
other institutions of higher education. There are two universities, each
with numerous affiliated research and study institutions. Academic freedom
is respected, and centers of higher education are lively and intellectually
b. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association
The Constitution provides for the rights of peaceful assembly, association,
and participation in public meetings, and the Government respects these
rights in practice. These rights can be restricted only in circumstances
involving national security, public safety, or protection against
infectious diseases, and then only by act of the State Assembly.
c. Freedom of Religion
The Constitution explicitly provides for the unfettered profession of
religious and other beliefs in private and in public, and the Government
respects these rights in practice. No person can be compelled to admit his
religious or other beliefs. There is no state religion. About 71 percent
of the population are Roman Catholic, 2.5 percent are Orthodox, and 1.5
percent are Muslim. Protestants, mostly in the eastern part of the country,
constitute less than 1 percent of the populace. Clergy, missionaries--some
from foreign churches--and religious groups operate without hindrance.
The appropriate role for religious instruction in the schools continues to
be an issue of debate. The Constitution states that parents are entitled
"to give their children a moral and religious upbringing...." Before 1945
religion was much more prominent in the schools, but now only those schools
supported by religious bodies teach religion.
d. Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign Travel, Emigration,
The Constitution provides that each person has the right to freedom of
movement, to choice of place of residence, to leave the country freely, and
to return. Limitations on these rights may be made only by statute and
only where necessary in criminal cases, to control infectious disease, or
in wartime. In practice citizens travel widely and often.
The Constitution provides for a right of political asylum for foreigners
and stateless persons "who are persecuted for their stand on human rights
and fundamental freedoms." The Government cooperates with the Office of
the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and other humanitarian
organization in assisting refugees. The Government provides first asylum
(or "temporary protection") to refugees but on a very limited basis in
recent years. There were no reports that the Government forcibly returned
any refugees against their will to a country where they feared
Section 3 Respect for Political Rights: The Right of Citizens to Change
Citizens have the right to change their government, voting by secret ballot
on the basis of universal suffrage. Slovenia has a mixed parliamentary and
presidential system. The President proposes a candidate to the legislature
for confirmation as Prime Minister, after consultations with the leaders of
the political parties in the State Assembly.
No restrictions hinder the participation of women or minorities in
politics. Of the 90 members of Parliament, 8 are women. There are no
women in the Cabinet. The Prime Minister's Office has an active agency for
monitoring and promoting the participation by women in public
The Constitution stipulates that the Italian and Hungarian ethnic
communities are each entitled to at least one representative in the
Assembly, regardless of their population.
Section 4 Governmental Attitude Regarding International and
Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations of Human
Independent human rights monitoring groups promote respect for human rights
and freedoms and freely investigate complaints about violations. The
Government places no obstacles in the way of investigations by
international or local human rights groups.
A government-appointed but nominally independent ombudsman deals with human
rights problems, including so-called "economic rights." The incumbent
generally is regarded as fair, but some see him as unable to probe too
deeply into sensitive issues because of his overt links to the Government.
He nevertheless has criticized the Government for the slow pace of legal
proceedings, both in civil and criminal cases.
Section 5 Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, Disability,
Language, or Social Status
The Constitution provides for equality before the law, and the Government
observed this provision in practice. According to the 1991 census, the
population is approximately 2 million, of whom 1.7 million are Slovenes and
the remainder persons of 23 other nationalities. There were some 50,000
Croats, 48,000 Serbs, 27,000 Muslims, 8,500 Hungarians, and 3,000
The Constitution provides special rights for the "autochthonous Italian and
Hungarian ethnic communities," including the right to use their own
national symbols, enjoy bilingual education, and other privileges. It also
provides for special status and rights for the small Romani community,
which are observed in practice.
The awareness of spousal abuse and violence against women is on the rise.
In 1996 51 men were convicted of rape (latest statistic available). There
are three shelters for battered women, which are partially funded by the
State. The shelters operate at capacity (about 40 beds combined) and turn
away numerous women every year. In cases of reported spousal abuse or
violence, the police actively intervene, and criminal charges are
Equal rights for women are a matter of state policy. There is no official
discrimination against women or minorities in housing, jobs, education, or
other walks of life. Marriage, under the Constitution, is based on the
equality of both spouses. The Constitution stipulates that the state shall
protect the family, motherhood, and fatherhood.
In rural areas, women, even those employed outside the home, bear a
disproportionate share of household work and family care because of a
generally conservative social tradition. However, women are frequently
encountered in business and in government executive departments.
Equal pay for equal work for men and women is the norm. Although both men
and women suffer from the loss of work and both sexes have the same average
period of unemployment, women are still found more often in lower paying
jobs. On average, women‚s earnings are 85 percent of those of men.
The Government demonstrates its commitment to children's welfare through
its system of public education and health care.
The Constitution stipulates that children "enjoy human rights and
fundamental freedoms consistent with their age and level of maturity."
Moreover, special protection from exploitation and maltreatment is provided
by statute. Social workers visit schools regularly to monitor for any
incidents of mistreatment or abuse of children.
There is no societal pattern of abuse against children.
People With Disabilities
The disabled are not discriminated against, and the Government has taken
steps to facilitate access to social and economic opportunities. In
practice, modifications of public and private structures to ease access by
the handicapped continue slowly but steadily.
Minorities make up about 12 percent of the population; most are nationals
of the former Yugoslavia. The Hungarian and Italian ethnic communities
(under 1 percent) enjoy constitutionally mandated representation in the
State Assembly. Minorities are treated fairly in practice as well as in
law. However, 5,000 to 10,000 non-Slovene (former Yugoslav) residents are
without legal residency status due to the Government‚s slow processing of
their applications for Slovene citizenship.
Section 6 Worker Rights
a. The Right of Association
The Constitution stipulates that trade unions, their operation, and their
membership shall be free and provides for the right to strike. Virtually
all workers, except police and military personnel, are eligible to form and
join labor organizations. In 1993 the State Assembly for the first time
passed legislation restricting strikes by some public sector employees.
However, after government budget-cutting, some public sector professionals
(judges, doctors, and educators) have become increasingly active on the
Labor has two main groupings, with constituent branches throughout the
country. A third, much smaller, regional labor union operates on the
Adriatic coast. Unions are formally and actually independent of the
Government and political parties, but individual union members hold
positions in the legislature. The Constitution provides that the State
shall be responsible for "the creation of opportunities for employment and
There are no restrictions on unions joining or forming federations and
affiliating with like-minded international union organizations.
b. The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively
The economy is in transition from the former Communist system, which
included some private ownership of enterprises along with state-controlled
and "socially owned" enterprises. In the transition to a fully market-
based economy, the collective bargaining process is undergoing change.
Formerly, the old Yugoslav Government had a dominant role in setting the
minimum wage and conditions of work. The Government still exercises this
role to an extent, although in the private sector wages and working
conditions are agreed annually in a general collective agreement between
the "social partners:" The labor unions and the Chamber of Economy. There
are no reports of antiunion discrimination.
Export processing zones exist in Koper, Maribor, and Nova Gorica. Worker
rights are the same in these zones as in the rest of the country.
c. Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor
The law prohibits forced and bonded labor, including that performed by
children, and there were no reports of forced labor by adults or
d. Status of Child Labor Practices and Minimum Age for
The minimum age for employment is 16 years. Children must remain in school
until the age of 15. During the harvest or for other farm work, younger
children do work. In general, urban employers respect the age limits. The
law prohibits forced and bonded labor by children, and there were no
reports of its use (see Section 6.c.).
e. Acceptable Conditions of Work
The minimum wage is $358 (Sit 59,150) per month effective in July, which
provides a decent standard of living for the average worker and family.
The workweek is 40 hours. In general, businesses provide acceptable
conditions of work for their employees. Occupational health and safety
standards are set and enforced by special commissions controlled by the
Ministries of Health and Labor. Workers have the right to remove
themselves from unsafe conditions without jeopardizing their continued