Council of Europe calls on Slovenia to reject some amendments on migrants


 Reuters International

Human rights commissioner at the Council of Europe Nils Muiznieks speaks during an interview with Reuters in Warsaw, Poland June 15, 2016. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel

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LJUBLJANA (Reuters) - The Council of Europe, the continent's leading human rights organisation, called on Slovenia's parliament to reject some legal changes affecting migrants that the government proposed earlier in January in a set of amendments.

In a letter to parliamentary speaker Milan Brglez, the Commissioner for Human Rights Nils Muiznieks said amendments that "are contrary to international law and undermine human rights" should be rejected.

The changes, expected to be debated in parliament next week, would enable the police to seal the country's borders to most illegal immigrants for a limited period if parliament deemed it necessary for security reasons.

But Muiznieks said states "should ensure that migrants, including asylum seekers, on their territory and at their borders, have effective access to a procedure enabling them to put forward reasons not to be refused entry or returned".

On the other hand, Muiznieks welcomed an amendment that would create a special Office for Migration in Slovenia that would coordinate policy on migrants.

Slovenia's Prime Minister Miro Cerar said on Monday the country wants to prevent a repeat of the six-month flow of migrants passing through its territory that ended in March 2016 when countries to its south closed their borders, shutting off the Balkan migration route to western Europe.

In those six months almost 500,000 illegal migrants crossed Slovenia, the smallest country on the route through the Balkans.

(Reporting By Marja Novak; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

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