As Slovenia prepares to assume the Presidency of the Council of the EU in July, the country replaces Poland on the CIVICUS Monitor watchlist.
While the Slovenian Presidency has rule of law as a key priority for the coming semester, the Slovenian Government has been actively deteriorating rule of law and civic space at home.
Previously, Slovenia had seen an improvement in the legislative environment for civil society, in particular since spring 2018 when an NGO Law - among other things - defined the term “NGO” and created an NGO fund to strengthen the sector. However, a rapid deterioration of civic space and rule of law has been noted in Slovenia since March 2020, after the formation of Janez Janša’s new right-wing Government, which coincided with the declaration of the pandemic in the country.
Since mid-March, the Government has repeatedly attempted and often succeeded in changing democratic rules passing many decrees under the guise of COVID-19. Almost all decrees - passed under the Communicable Diseases act, part of which was recently found to be unconstitutional - include articles that deal with fundamental freedoms unrelated to the pandemic, and these laws were passed through an emergency procedure without consultation with civil society and trade unions. The government has also repeatedly and systematically targeted civil society organisations (CSOs), journalists and critical voices more generally.
These moves found the opposition of civil society and citizens protesting and revitalising Slovenian civic mobilisations. A new protest is scheduled to take place on Friday.
- March 2020: Janša starts his third term as Prime Minister of Slovenia. A day before being sworn in the COVID-19 pandemic is announced in Slovenia.
- April 2020: Massive protests take to the streets on a weekly basis against corruption and restrictions of fundamental rights. They are met with heavy handed policing and unlawful fines.
- April 2020: Government restricts participation for environmental organisations. New restrictive measures follow throughout the year.
- November 2020: Slovenia backs Poland and Hungary on their veto on the EU budget over plans to tie funding to respect for the rule of law.
- December 2020: Government attempts to abolish NGO fund.
- April 2021: Constitutional Court protects peaceful assembly.
- June 2021: Biggest protest in the history of Slovenia brings to the streets roughly 40000 people.
- 1 July 2021: Slovenia assumes the EU Presidency of the Council of the EU. Rule of law in the EU is one of the priorities of the Presidency.
We join European Civic Forum and CIVICUS to call on the European institutions to take immediate action to address fundamental rights violations, including violations of the right to peaceful assembly, expression and association and the overall declining civic space in Slovenia!
Thanks to European Civic Forum for the above text.