Government wants to replace NGO because of its criticism

THE UNITED Nations High Commission for Refugees should end its cooperation with the Human Rights League (HRL) because their criticism of the police is “non-constructive”, according to the government, the Sme daily reported on October 22.

Interior Minister Róbert Kaliňák Interior Minister Róbert Kaliňák (Source: Sme - Pavol Funtál)

The Interior Ministry plans to ask the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Regional Representation in Budapest to replace the HRL as its partner for the provision of information on the situation in refugee detention camps.

“In many cases, which can be substantiated, the Human Rights League exploited its position in order to issue non-constructive criticism of police actions,” says the material that was approved by the Cabinet at its session on Wednesday.

The HRL specifically criticised the action of the police in the village of Medveďov, in the Trnava region, at the beginning of September. This took place when refugees vociferously demanded their transfer to Germany and the police were said to have been heavy-handed in their response. The HRL also criticised the strict rules at the camp and the lack of English-speaking people who could try to communicate with the refugees.

Read also:Ombudswoman: Conflict in Medveďov refugee camp could have been avoided Read more 

The League is ready to discuss its shortcomings, but so far nobody has approached it. If the Interior Mininstry has some reservations against the league, it should communicate with their representatives in the first place, and not turn immediately to the UNHCR, said HRL director Zuzana Števulová in her response.

Representatives of the UNHCR will arrive in Slovakia in a few days to discuss the matter with the Government and the HRL.

“We consider the League to be our partner and we’d like to understand where the problem lies,” said UNHCR spokesperson Babar Baloch, as quoted by the TASR newswire.

The HRL’s activities are focused on providing legal aid to refugees seeking asylum. It is funded through various donations, contributions and from EU funds.The League, as well as many other NGOs, now face a lack of money as the programme period for drawing EU funds has ended and the new one will start in November. HRL employees have therefore decided to continue working temporarily as volunteers.

“We represent people in legal proceedings and we can’t just cancel these because our money ran out,” said Števulová, as quoted by TASR.

The Interior Ministry will now decide whether it will grant money to further HRL projects. 

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