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Justice for shoemaker who lived without rights for 20 years

Kurić and Others v. Slovenia  | 2012

Justice for shoemaker who lived without rights for 20 years

It’s bad to live without any social or human rights

Mustafa Kurić. Quoted by Delo, June 2012 - © Photo Aleš Černivec/Delo

Background

Mustafa Kurić was a shoemaker. He was born in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1935, but moved to Slovenia when he was 20. After living there for over 35 years, he had his residency status automatically withdrawn on 26 February 1992 – along with 25,671 other people.

After Slovenia declared independence from Yugoslavia in 1991, citizens of other former Yugolsav republics living in the country were given a deadline to acquire Slovenian citizenship. According to Mr Kurić, he was in hospital at the time and could not make the application. Those who failed to get citizenship automatically lost their “permanently resident” status – without being notified.

Suddenly, the “erased” became foreign citizens or stateless people living illegally in Slovenia. Many had their papers taken away, were evicted from apartments, could not work or travel, lost personal possessions or lived in poor conditions.

Compared to many people, Mustafa Kurić was lucky as local police allowed him to remain in the country – though he had to stay in his local community, and he was refused a pension in old age. 

ECHR judgment

The court ruled that the Slovenian legal system did not properly regulate the status of the “erased” until 2010. Due to this legal uncertainty, and the fact that the “erased” could not legally live or work in the country, they were exposed to extreme hardship for almost 20 years with no chance of resolving their situation. The unlawful and disproportionate actions of the government had been discriminatory and violated the applicants’ right to private and family life.

If police officers stopped him, they detained him for four or five hours, chastising and humiliating him.

Quoted by Delo, June 2012 

Follow-up

Legislation was changed to make sure that the “erased” could obtain the right to live in Slovenia. Over 10,000 people were awarded either citizenship or permanent residency. A new scheme was also introduced to provide them with compensation, totalling many millions of euros.

Mustafa Kurić was eventually given the right to live legally in Slovenia.


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