Peace Institute honored for work on ‘the Erased’

October 29, 2012

News Source: The Peace Institute

PILnet – The Global Network for Public Interest Law has recognized the work of the Peace Institute on behalf of thousands of Slovenians who were stripped of their legal status. The organization awarded on October 26 the PILnet 2012 European Pro Bono Award for exemplary partnership in the public interest to the Institute and two Italian attorneys who worked with the Slovenian think tank on the issue.

The award was announced at the closing ceremony of the 6th European Pro Bono Forum hosted by PILnet in Madrid, and was accepted by attorney Antion Giulio Lana and Neža Kogovšek Šalamon, director of the Peace Institute.

The award honors the successful litigation before the European Court of Human Rights concerning the issue of “erased people” that Lana and fellow attorney Andrea Saccucci achieved in partnership with the Peace Institute. The “erased people” of Slovenia are a group of 25.671 individuals who have been unlawfully and arbitrarily deprived of their legal status of permanent residents of Slovenia. This state measure, which was carried in 1992, became known as “the Erasure.” More information about the erased people and the litigation is available at www.mirovni-institut.si/izbrisani/en.

With the Strasbourg court decision issued in the case Kurić and others v. Slovenia, the first six erased persons were awarded compensation for the suffering they went through due to this arbitrary measure and due to the prolonged failure of the Slovenian state to remedy the violations. In addition to awarding compensation to the erased applicants, the court ordered Slovenia to adopt an ad-hoc compensation scheme in order to enable access to compensation for other erased persons as well. The judgment will therefore not only change the lives of the six applicants, but will have an impact for the entire group, according to Šalamon.

As the judgment requires that Slovenia adopt legislative measures, the collaboration between the attorneys and the Peace Institute will continue, as there is a need for monitoring whether the judgment will be implemented appropriately, Šalamon said.

“The award bestowed today in Madrid represents an important encouragement for continuation of this fruitful and inspiring partnership,” she said.

In 2005, a group of Slovenian and Italian activists made a crucial step by initiating a preparation of the complaint to the European Court of Human Rights. They approached Lana and Saccucci, attorneys with many years of experience with litigating before the Strasbourg court, who agreed to represent the clients pro bono.

After the complaint was lodged in 2006 there was a need for Slovenian lawyers to get involved and support the litigation. In 2007 the Peace Institute, which had been actively working on the issue since 2001, got actively involved in the legal case. The work of the Peace Institute on the issue of erased was made possible by the support of the Open Society Foundations (Human Rights and Governance Grants Program).

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