Defence Committee rejects motion to give army limited police powers

The Government’s proposal to activate the Article 37a of the Defence Act, which would give limited police powers to the military to control the state border, did not get two-thirds of the votes of those present at the National Defence Committee. With 19 MPs present, 11 of them voted in favour of the motion, which is less than two-thirds and the proposal was not adopted.

Otherwise, 7 MPs voted against the motion. Besides the MPs of the coalition SDS, SMC, NSi and DeSUS parties, the proposal was supported by the MPs of the opposition SAB and SNS parties, while the MPs of LMŠ, the Left and SD opposed the motion already when discussed.

They stressed that there is no need for additional powers for the military as the pressure of migrants is easing. They believe the military should help with other tasks such as logistics, helicopter transportation, disinfection and humanitarian aid in emergency situations due to the epidemic. Some have expressed their willingness to reconsider activating Article 37a in case of changed security conditions.

Those in favour of the Government’s proposal, however, have highlighted the imminent threat of a migrant wave in connection with the pandemic of the new coronavirus, and rejected opponents’ views by claiming that it does not mean an army on the streets and stressing that the army would only carry out tasks along the Slovenian southern border in cooperation with the understaffed police force.

In response to allegations by some opposition MPs that police reservists should be activated first, the interior minister Aleš Hojs replied that all police reservists had already been activated following a Government decision. According to him, more than 1,500 police officers are on the job due to the epidemic. Even though there are not many border crossings, teams must still be present there, he added.

At the initiative of the SAB MPs, the members of the Defence Committee also decided on the amendment to include only the persons who are being members of the permanent or reserve armed forces for at least one year, and Hojs agreed. This way, according to Maša Kociper (SAB), they want to limit the possibility of members of various “nationalist guards” to get involved in these tasks.

Some members of the Committee also wanted to clarify the term of the decision, after being warned by the Legislative and Legal Service of the National Assembly. The original proposal stated that the measures may be valid for a maximum of three months, as permitted by the statutory provision, and according to the Legislative and Legal Service the decision should limit this period within that period.

The proposal of an amendment of some MPs, which was also not adopted, followed Hojs’ motion to set the term at 15 June. According to the minister, this date would be appropriate as the measures in the proposal of the ‘Corona Mega Law’ are also foreseen to be valid until 15 May, with the possibility of a 30-day extension.

 

Source: STA, dnevnik.si

Photo: Pixabay

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