The obligation to report stays abroad exceeding 90 days is a benefit for citizens, according to Interior Minister Robert Kaliňák, who said so during the political talk show O 5 Minút 12, broadcast by the public-service Slovak Television (STV). The minister stressed that if the ministry knows the whereabouts of citizens and legal residents, it will be able to inform them about possible seizures of their property, inheritance or other important, official matters.
Parliament passed the amendment to the Act on Reporting Citizens’ Residencies on May 16. Among other things, it requires people who plan to travel and remain abroad for more than 90 days to report this to the state. If not, they will be fined.
The amendment came in for criticism from the opposition as well as ordinary people, who created a group on Facebook and started to report their current stay to the Interior Ministry.
According to Lucia Žitňanská from the Slovak Democratic and Christian Union (SDKÚ), people are outraged since they feel bullied by the state and are afraid of it misusing power. She told STV that people obviously do not trust the interior minister since they are afraid he wants to control them and to know where they are at any moment.
Kaliňák refuted that an obligation to report stays abroad has already been part of the law for 15 years, and said that the only thing the ministry changed was the wording of the law, from “will report” to “is obliged to report”.
The interior minister also told a press conference held on May 17 that the state will not automatically fine people who do not report their stay abroad.
“We are not interested in controlling it; people are creating problems for themselves,” Kaliňák said, as quoted by SITA.
According to Kaliňák, it often happens that people depart from Slovakia for longer periods of time and when they return they complain that the state had neglected its duties, such as sending them official mail or giving them state benefits. He cited an example of a person who asked the official authorities for a change of name. Since they accepted the change, but did not know about the person’s residence abroad, they could not send him/her the information and the official documents for this person meanwhile became invalid, SITA reported.
Kaliňák also said that the fine will be imposed only in the event that one’s failure to report an extended stay abroad results in damages. The maximum fine will stand at €33. The interior minister said that until now nobody has received the fine yet.
Meanwhile, the opposition parties called on President Ivan Gašparovič not to sign the amendment to the Act on Reporting Citizens’ Residencies, saying that it interferes in the personal rights and privacy of people, SITA reported.
Source: STV, SITA
For more information about this story please see: Slovaks must now inform the state if they want to leave their own country
Compiled by Radka Minarechová from press reports
The Slovak Spectator cannot vouch for the accuracy of the information presented in its Flash News postings.
20. May 2013 at 14:00