Slovenia: Harassment and threat of eviction of the Peace Institute and 17 other NGOs

03/11/2020
Urgent Appeal

SVN 001/ 1120 / OBS 121
Threat of eviction /
Harassment
Slovenia
November 3, 2020

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a partnership of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and FIDH, requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Slovenia.

Description of the situation:

The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the harassment and threat of eviction of the Peace Institute and 17 other NGOs operating at No. 6 Metelkova Street in Ljubljana, which all engage in independent cultural production and defending human rights, media freedom and the environment, and who have resided at this address for over two decades[1].

According to the information received, on October 19, 2020, the organisations working at No. 6 Metelkova Street received a proposal for an amicable termination of the lease from the building manager of the Ministry of Culture of Slovenia, as well as an order to vacate the state-owned building by January 31, 2021.

Furthermore, the organisations were informed that the eviction would be judicially enforced at the organisation’s expenses in case they failed to comply with the eviction order. According to the Ministry of Culture, the reason for the termination of the lease is the need to renovate the building. However, the Ministry of Culture has not offered any alternative accommodation to the tenants, nor has it entered into dialogue with or consulted them, in contravention with international standards relating to forced evictions[2]. Moreover, the news was received on the same day that a curfew was declared in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

As the only public building in Slovenia dedicated by the Ministry of Culture to independent, cultural, artistic and research organisations, it is home to many important NGOs that are designated as operating in the public interest.

The Observatory condemns these acts of harassment against the Peace Institute and the other NGOs residing at No. 6 Metelkova Street in Ljubljana, and calls upon Slovenian authorities to ensure that the aformentioned organisations, and any civil society organisation in Slovenia, can carry out their legitimate human rights activities without hindrances.

Actions Requested:

Please write to the Slovenian authorities to urge them to:

i. Retract the eviction order on No. 6 Metelkova Street (Ljubljana), as in its current form it is likely to prevent the above-mentioned NGOs from exercising their legitimate and peaceful human rights activities, and guarantee in all circumstances the right to freedom of association in the country. As a minimum, ensure that the eviction is carried out in compliance with international standards on forced evictions, and that an alternative accommodation is provided to the evicted organisations where they can continue to carry out their work;

ii. Comply in all circumstances with the provisions of international human rights law governing forced evictions, in particular Article 11 (1), read in conjunction with Article 2 (1), of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the application of which was clarified by the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in its General Comments Nos. 4 and 7;

iii. Put an end to all acts of harassment -including at the administrative and judicial level- against the above-mentioned NGOs as well as all human rights defenders in Slovenia, and ensure in all circumstances that they are able to carry out their legitimate activities without any hindrance and fear of reprisals;

iv. Conform in all circumstances with the provisions of the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted on December 9, 1998 by the United Nations General Assembly, in particular its Articles 1, 5 and 12.2;

v. Ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with the Slovenian constitution and international human rights instruments ratified by Slovenia.

Addresses:

· Mr. Borut Pahor, President of the Republic of Slovenia, Email: gp.uprs@up-rs.si
· Mr. Janez Janša, Prime Minister of the Republic of Slovenia, Email: gp.kpv@gov.si
· Mr. Aleš Hojs, Minister of Interior of the Republic of Slovenia, Email: gp.mnz@gv.si
· Mr. Vasko Simoniti, Minister of Culture of the Republic of Slovenia, Email: gp.mk@gov.si
· Mr. Darja Bavdaž Kuret, Permanent Representative to the UN, Email:slovenia@un.int
· Permanent Representation of Slovenia in EU, Email: slomission.eu@gov.si

Please also write to the diplomatic representations of Slovenia in your respective countries.

***
Geneva-Paris, November 3, 2020

Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (the Observatory) was created in 1997 by the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and FIDH. The objective of this programme is to prevent or remedy situations of repression against human rights defenders. OMCT and FIDH are both members of ProtectDefenders.eu, the European Union Human Rights Defenders Mechanism implemented by international civil society.

To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:
· E-mail: Appeals@fidh-omct.org
· Tel OMCT + 41 22 809 49 39
· Tel FIDH + 33 (0) 1 43 55 25 18


[1] The organisations operating at No. 6 Metelkova derive from the heritage of the civil society movements that promoted the democratisation and demilitarisation of society in the 1980s, and thereby made a crucial contribution to the adoption of a democratic constitution after the country’s independence.
[2] Contained in particular in Article 11 (1), read in conjunction with Article 2 (1), of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR).The application of these articles to forced evictions was clarified by the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in its General Comment n°4 : The Right to Adequate Housing (Art. 11 (1) of the Covenant) of 1991 and General Comment n°7: The right to adequate housing (art. 11 (1) of the Covenant): Forced evictions of 1997.

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