On 25-26 January 2017, Tomáš Boček, the Secretary General´s Special Representative on migration and refugees, travelled to Slovenia, together with a team of experts, to discuss - with the Speaker of Parliament, government officials and senior civil servants - amendments to the Aliens Act that would give, in certain circumstances, the authorities the power effectively to close down the country’s borders. The Special Representative’s visit took place one day before the enactment of the amendments in question. Its purpose was to offer Council of Europe assistance so as to make the Aliens Act compliant with the European Convention on Human Rights and Slovenia’s other international commitments. At the end of his mission, Ambassador Boček welcomed the authorities' readiness for dialogue, but said that human rights concerns remained, especially in connection with refoulement and chain refoulement. The main issues arising in connection with the proposed amendments were, according to Mr Boček, the lack of individual processing of asylum claims and the non-suspensive effect of appeals against decisions to refuse entry to persons with an arguable claim that this could result in serious human rights violations.
On 27 January 2017, the Special Representative met François Crépeau, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants, who was visiting Strasbourg, for a first exchange of views on issues of common concern to the two “mandates”. The discussion focused on changing governmental and social attitudes vis-à-vis population movements and cultural diversity, as well as on strategies for migrant empowerment and the key role to be played by courts in upholding international standards in an adverse political climate.
On 29 January 2017, Tomáš Boček participated, via a pre-recorded video message, in a conference organised in San Diego by the Global Institute on Refugee and Displaced Children of the International Society for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect (ISPCAN). The general theme of the conference was Global Strategies to Help, with a special focus on the enormous strain placed on child protection services by recent population movements across continents. The topic of the Special Representative’s session was “The migrant and refugee crisis in Eastern and Western Europe – Policy, Challenges and Responses.”